Tuesday, January 6

The benefits (& disadvantages) of soy ink

One of the selling features that green companies point out is that their items are printed with soy ink. I was curious as to why soy ink is considered a better choice than conventional, petroleum based ink. After researching many different sites I think I found my answers. (Even though all the sites basically said the same things I liked the way Wikipedia stated it better)

According to Wikipedia:

Soy ink is overwhelmingly more environmentally friendly:

  • Cultivation of the soybeans uses only 0.5 percent of the total energy necessary to produce the ink.[1]
  • Much of that crop requires no irrigation, limited fixed nutrients, and leaves fewer agricultural residues than other crops.[2]
  • Soy ink also has low levels of VOCs, (volatile organic compounds) which helps to reduce air pollution by minimizing toxic emissions.[3]
  • Degradability studies conducted by Erhan and Bagby concluded that the pigment cartier in 100-percent soy ink degrades almost twice as completely as ink made from soy oil and petroleum resins, and more than four times as completely as standard petroleum inks.[8][9]
  • Soy ink is a helpful component in paper recycling because the soy ink can be removed more easily than regular ink from paper during the de-inking process. This allows the recycled paper to have less damage to its paper fibers and have a brighter appearance.
  • The waste that is left from the soy ink during the de-inking process is not hazardous and it can be treated easily through the development on modern processes.[10]
  • Soybean oil is naturally clearer than petroleum distillates and other vegetable oils, making it easier to obtain brightly colored ink.
  • Since the oil is clearer, less pigment is necessary to produce the same effect, which reduces the overall cost of the ink.[11]
  • The higher oil to pigment ratio renders the inks easier to recycle as well.
  • Some printers report that they need less ink to print the same amount of paper when compared to petroleum inks. Soy ink has been found to spread approximately 15% further, reducing ink use and printer cleanup costs.[13]

The rising prices for petroleum and quarrels with OPEC countries were reasons Newspapers wanted to find a more reliable and cost efficient method of printing.[4]

  • Today, soy ink is used in over 95% of America’s daily newspapers that circulate more than fifteen hundred copies per run.[5]
  • About one quarter of commercial printers in the United States operate using soy ink.[4]

Unfortunately, soy ink is not a perfect solution to the problems associated with the production of ink.

  • It cannot be used in ballpoint pens and personal printers.
  • It takes more time to dry than petroleum-based inks which creates challenges for some printing presses, especially those that use coated papers (such as magazines) instead of porous, uncoated paper (such as newspapers) where the ink can dry via absorption.
  • There is also the problem that an over-dependency on a single crop introduces the risk of crop disease epidemics, as in the Great Irish Famine.
  • Since much[16] of the soy produced in the World is of genetically modified cultivars, the increased use of soy exacerbates some concerns with both GMO and modern agriculture.[citation needed]

Most people agree that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and now I (and you) know why soy-based ink is considered the eco-friendly choice!


Lisa Sharp said...

Just wanted to point out somethings about the disadvantage points. My husband and I both have used soy ink pens and they are awesome. Much smoother and didn't notice a longer drying time. My husband is a school teacher so he writes a lot and his favorite pen is the soy ink one.

As far as the crop thing, we shouldn't eat soy anyway if you ask me lol. It messes with hormones and is almost always GMO, even organic sometimes test as having GMOs in it. I would much rather write with GMO food than eat it lol.

It's rare that one thing is the fix all but soy ink is for sure a good way to go until we find something even better. :) Thanks for the great post.

Over Coffee - the green edition said...

Thanks for the comment & info Lisa! I have not been able to find soy ink pens, can you tell me where you got yours. I would love to try them. I am not sure how old the entry from Wikipedia is so maybe that is why they did not have information on the soy ink pens.

Daniel said...

In the traditional printing process, water is combined with ink so that colors are clearly differentiated on the paper. Moreover, chemicals like isopropyl alcohol are used for the printing purpose. With waterless printing, you will not only save water but you will be prevented from being exposed to harmful chemicals.
Soy Ink Printing Services