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Ink Cartridges Contribute To Saving The Planet

Jan 15, 2008
Ink cartridges have practically revolutionised printing techniques in the last 20 years. From the days of fiddling about swapping messy ink soaked ribbons and wearing more of the product than you would ever use, to what we have now. The little plastic box that pops out when empty and slots in, all fully filled and ready to go makes office life so much simpler.

Ink has come a long way from the days of quill and squid ink. Now containing chemicals and additives, the days of smeared and faded documents are long gone.

However, with the discovery of global warming, every aspect of life and business has come under scrutiny and it is now the moral thing to do, to ensure the products you use are environmentally friendly.

This is where the advent of soy ink, or vinegar ink, comes in. This is an alternative to petroleum based inks and aids the recycling of printed material as well as plastics. The cultivation of soy beans uses very little energy in comparison to standard inks. Although not 100% bio-degradable, soy ink is much more environmentally friendly, which is essential given where so much of it ends up.

Paper and plastic have been the biggest contributors to recycling since the government has been campaigning to encourage us all this way. Plastic recycling is quite an expensive process. Due to this fact, much of the recyclable plastics are shipped from the US and UK to Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam, where the cheap labour and lax environmental laws keep the cost down.

Surely, this is counter-productive. What we save for the environment here, pollutes it elsewhere - we are only one planet after all. Of the 90 million kilograms of waste plastic collected from the UK, three quarters of this was shipped to China for recycling.

This plastic then has to go through a procedure to remove contaminants before it can be recycled. This process can take up to two litres of water per 500 grams of re-cycled materials, therefore plants cannot be built in areas where water is limited.

Contaminants from recycled plastic, such as inks, are washed into the local waterways causing pollution thus making the whole process pointless.

However, use natural ingredients to make ink, such as soy ink and you have a much more environmentally friendly product. Techniques are being developed in the Western world to develop a recycling process that will eliminate the need for so much water and is hoped will be cost effective enough to stop the need for exporting our rubbish.

The good news is that soy ink is now being used in 95% of daily papers in the US. A quarter of commercial printers in the United States now use soy ink. The only application this ink is not suitable for is the biro.

So now you know, when choosing your ink cartridge make the environmentally sound choice. Use soy based ink products and do your bit for the planet.
About the Author
Environmental expert Catherine Harvey looks at the environmentally friendly ink cartridge to reduce pollution. To find out more please visit http://www.inksave.co.uk/
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