Featuring Soy and vegetable based inks,

excerpts from, and California Business Waste Management website


About Vegetable-Based Ink.

Vegetable-based printing ink is made with vegetable oil, such as soybean
or corn oil, as a substitute for petroleum.

Vegetable-based inks significantly reduce the amount of VOCs (volatile organic
compounds) released into the air during printing. When the Los Angeles
Times switched to soy-based ink, they reduced their VOC emissions by 200 tons
per year and won an air quality award from South Coast Air Quality Management

Soy ink is a kind of ink made from soybeans.

As opposed to traditional petroleum-based ink, soy-based ink:
is more environmentally friendly
is available in brighter colors
improves the life span of the printers
makes it easier to recycle paper
more economic in the long run


History of Soy ink

 Vinegar ink (soy tinta) is a form of non-food soy. It is an environmentally
friendly, healthy, and safe approach to printing that takes only a small
amount of energy to make. In fact, soybeans only use about 0.5 percent of the
total energy that is needed to create the ink. In the late 1970s, the Newspaper
Association of America was looking for different ways to make ink, rather
than by using the standard petroleum-based ink. Rising prices for petroleum and
quarrels with OPEC countries were reasons they wanted to find a more reliable
and cost efficient method of printing.

After testing over 2,000 different vegetable oil formulations, researchers
came up with a solution. In 1987, soybeans were chosen to make ink because of
their abundance and low cost. With soy bean ink, those who tested it found no
threat to the air or to the environment. In addition, approximately half of the
soybeans that are grown in the United States do not even need watering,
which is why using soybeans for ink can actually benefit the environment.
Another benefit to soy inks are its low levels of VOCs, (volatile organic
compounds) which can help with air pollution by minimizing emissions.

To make soy ink, soybean oil is slightly refined and then blended with pigment,
resins, and waxes. Even though soybean oil is also known as vegetable oil which
can be eaten, soy ink is not edible because the pigments that are mixed in
with the oil are the same ones that are used in petroleum-based inks. The
pigments and other additional chemicals added to create soy ink explain
why it is not 100% biodegradable or edible.

Soy ink is made from soybean oil which has an innate clearness to it.
Petroleum-based ink is not clear, and other vegetable oils are not as clear
as soybean oil making it harder to obtain bright colored ink. For this reason,
newspapers use soy ink regularly, especially for color because it creates a
sharper and brighter image.

Benefits and disadvantages
Soy ink is also a helpful component in paper recycling. It helps in this
process because the soy ink can be removed more easily than regular ink can
be taken out of paper during the de-inking process of recycling. 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.

Unfortunately, soy ink is not a perfect solution to the problems associated
with the production of ink. For example, it cannot be used in ballpoint pens
and personal printers. These are some of the many restrictions of soy ink. One
major problem with soy ink is that the ink rubs off quite easily (we solve that
by using the thermographic process, also called "raised ink" and cannot be rubbed off).
However, despite this flaw, soy ink sales remain large, and newspapers are still
the biggest buyers. Within the last 15 years since its development, the product
manages to sell about 90 percent of US daily newspapers with circulations of more
than 1500. Today about one quarter of commercial printers in the United States
operate using soy ink.

There is also the problem that an excess of soybeans productions implies, such as
over-dependency on a single crop, much likethe Great Irish Famine. Additionally,
as much of the soy produced in the US is of genetically modified cultivars,
the increased use of soy exacerbates some concerns with both GMO and
modern agriculture.

Bizcardpro logo
Any questions: e-mail:
1240 W. Sims Way, #147, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Toll Free: 1-877-376-4630
360-379-9019 360-379-4112 fax