Green Printing: The Difference Between Vegetable Based Inks and Petroleum Inks

Many a savvy buyer are weighing the importance of environmentally friendly practices when it comes to their printing needs. In addition to requesting the use of recycled paper, knowing what kind of ink is used on the paper is an important piece of knowledge. There is a significant difference between petroleum-based inks and vegetable-based inks and the effects they can have on the environment.

The Differences

You’ve heard of VOCs, right? That acronym stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and while the word “organic” has a positive connotation in today’s world, unfortunately, VOCs are not a good thing at all. When they are released into the air, they contribute to the breaking down of the ozone. This is a problem when it comes to inks because petroleum-based inks release a high level of VOCs as they dry, causing air pollution and contributing to global warming. This makes for unclean air for not only the people working in the printing companies but for all of us, as a whole. Also, petroleum inks come from a nonrenewable resource so resources are depleted by using them. The reason they became popular to begin with was because the inks dried quickly and produced vibrant colors. Vegetable and soy-based inks didn’t deliver comparable results. Because of this disparity, though, steps were taken to bring more environmentally friendly inks up to the quality that customers demanded.

The Benefits

Now you can expect the same quality colors and performance from vegetable inks as you would from their more harmful petroleum cousins. The VOC emissions from these “green” inks are significantly lower. While some soy and vegetable inks still emit some VOCs, there are now inks available at zero percent VOC emission. Beyond the VOC issue, another benefit to using vegetable based inks is that they breakdown easier, aiding in the recycling process. If your business requires paper be used for memos and marketing materials, making sure that these products can be easily recycled will help ease your mind.

By choosing to not use petroleum inks and to opt instead for a green printing option, your company can make a significant contribution toward protecting the environment. The steps you take toward being environmentally responsible will reflect positively in the minds of your customers.


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