Are All Printer Inks Environment Hazards?

February 19, 2010 4 Comments

One of the key selling points or advantages commonly associated with recycled or remanufactured ink cartridges is that it is environment-friendly because it does not only save the cartridges from the landfill but also helps in preventing cartridge leaks which can be detrimental to the environment.

Admittedly, printer inks can be toxic to the environment but not all printer inks are hazardous. The level of toxicity of printer inks depends on the components from which they are made of. Most of the printer and ink manufacturers today produce petroleum-based inks. As the term implies, these inks are made from petroleum which is a non-renewable resource. As such, the production of petroleum-based inks contributes to the hasty consumption of a non-renewable source and is not environment-friendly.

Another drawback with petroleum-based inks is that they release volatile organic compounds as the ink dries or when the printout is thrown to a landfill. Volatile organic compounds refer to gases that contain harmful chemicals. These may have either short-term or long-term health effects.

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One possible way to combat the ill effects of petroleum-based inks is to lower the petroleum content so that the volatile organic compound content is also lower. Most of the petroleum-based inks today contain about 30% volatile organic compounds. If you want something more environment-friendly, you can go for printer inks that have only 5% (or even less) volatile organic compounds. This information is included in the ink manufacturer’s material safety data sheet.

There is an alternative to petroleum-based ink: the vegetable-based ink. No, this is not a new technology. In fact, the process and concept have been around since after the Second World War. Vegetable-based and soy-based inks are made mostly from renewable resources. Hence, they contribute more to environment conservation.

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