Algae and Water-based Ink: Breaking New Ground In Sustainable Printing
What do you think of when you hear the word “algae?” The mossy scum floating on a just-opened pool? A brackish river or a forest pond? For those working in the sustainable printing industry, “algae” calls to mind something else—an environmentally friendly “living ink,” produced using a process that not only emits less carbon dioxide, but even removes it from the atmosphere!
To understand how algae ink production differs from conventional methods, let's compare its production process to that of carbon-based ink. To do that we'll turn to the folks at EcoEnclose, a company that produces eco-friendly packaging and shipping supplies. In a video titled “Algae Ink: All There is to Know,” EcoEnclose CEO Saloni Doshi lays out the differences between carbon-based ink and algae ink. Carbon-based ink is made with incompletely burned petroleum, a process which is traditionally reliant on the fossil fuel industry. In contrast, algae ink is made using waste cells from an algae production facility, combined with a water base. Ironically, production of algae ink uses slightly less water than carbon ink production! As those algae cells grew, they sequestered CO2 from the atmosphere; this carbon dioxide is in turn stored within the ink and the material onto which the ink is printed, turning that very shirt, tote bag or packing envelope into a container for CO2!
As amazing as algae-based ink is, for color inks, normal water-based ink is often a better choice. Fortunately, production of ordinary water-based ink is fairly environmentally friendly. The safer, more biodegradable and less toxic materials are a big plus; water-based ink also produces a softer product [Foster]. For buyers, the comfort and environmental friendliness are hard to beat; consumers can enjoy merchandise made with high-quality materials while knowing those products were printed sustainably.
At Soultree Apparel, it's our mission to provide you with the highest-quality products, produced with the best materials and the utmost care. Using algae inks and other water-based inks for our products is an important element of that mission. We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our manufacturing process, and know you'll love our products as much as we do!
- EcoEnclose, LLC. "Algae Ink All There Is To Know." YouTube, 19 July 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8USW27j3HPw.
- Foster, Nathan. “The Basics of Water-Based Inks.” Impressions Magazine, April 8, 2019, https://impressionsmagazine.com/screen-printing/production/the-basics-of-water-based-inks/. Accessed June 7th, 2023.