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August 19, 2021
A common misconception is that print simply isn't sustainable, but much has changed in recent years. As part of a wider shift towards environmentally-conscious production, an increasing number of printing houses are turning to vegetable-based inks, with beautiful results.
The key difference between vegetable inks vs petroleum based inks is the oil used. Formed using linseed, canola, castor, corn or soybeans, vegetable ink is far kinder to the environment than petroleum-based inks made from crude oil.
Vegetable inks can even be formed as a by-product of vegetable crops - requiring no additional planting for the purpose. When planting does take place, the act of doing so is far more sustainable processing crude oil.
To create a vegetable ink, the plant-based materials are washed, cut down to be formed into oil. This is then added to pigment along with a resin.
This approach drastically reduces emissions or VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from the printing industry. When VOCs are released into the air, they inevitably contribute to air pollution and global warming. Vegetables are also a renewable source.
With the demand for sustainable inks increasingly high, the level of quality achieved by vegetable-based inks can certainly match (and in many cases, surpass) the finish of petroleum-based inks.
Deep colours and crisp edges are now the norm for conscious printers and vegetable-based inks are increasingly available in printing houses across the UK. When combined with carbon balancing, recycling, FSC certification and other sustainable practices, the impact of the printing industry can be greatly improved.