Soy Ink Could Be the Future of Printing

Consumer outlook on green incentives has sparked new interest in the business world as to how to efficiently promote environmentally friendly practices without increasing cost of products.

Since 1970, most American newspapers have switched from fossil fuel-based inks to soy ink as an alternative to rising petroleum costs. In the past two years, soy-based ink has expanded its market into homes.

As it begins to reach these settings, consumers are forced to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing soy ink toner and printer cartridges. On one hand, it releases less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is better for our planet, spreads easier and requires less of it to print. On the other hand, some of the VOCs found in petroleum ink help it dry faster and prevent smudging. That means printing out pictures of your kids on nice glossy paper could become a lengthy project.

Consumers interested in switching over to soy ink were initially wary of the potential spike in cost. However, with an expanded interest in the production of these soy cartridges, recent price comparisons show that soy cartridge prices have decreased and are equivalent to those of petroleum ink cartridges.

Printing with this new ink cartridge at home is a relatively new concept, but once consumers got past the initial misconception that it will cost more, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. In terms of looks, soy produces a much more vibrant colored ink than petroleum. It also leaves less residue, which allows paper to be recycled easier as it is de-inked and broken down into a pulp.

Additionally, pre-existing technology could be used to make use of the renewable soybean resource rather than the continued production of fossil fuel-based inks. In the grand scheme of printing, the use of soy ink will only impact our planet when used in bulk. Newspapers and other mass-produced texts that use soy ink cartridges will help combat past littering problems, too, because soy ink is biodegradable.

For a consumer this could be a perfect way to participate in an ever-growing green society. Not only does this option promote a green reputation, but studies show that soy ink lasts longer and prints at a higher quality than that of the traditional ink cartridges, especially on recycled paper. Soy ink is growing in popularity and with a higher demand of green options for the home and office, it could become a viable replacement for petroleum ink in the future.

Cathryn Poth is a business journalist for who covers a range of topics including new business trends, printer ink, printer supplies, office supplies and recycling in the office.

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