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Is Algae Ink the future of sustainable packaging?

Ink is everywhere! Almost everything around us requires ink. Now with climate change and pollution threats to biodiversity, sustainable packaging and materials have been on a rise in the packaging industry. Therefore, having a sustainable ink would definitely have a positive impact on protecting the environment.

Living Ink, founded by Dr.Scott Fulbright and Dr.Steve Albers in 2013, has developed an ink based in algae that has a negative carbon footprint, compostable and resistant to UV light.

In 2015, Dr.Scott Fulbright gave a TedxMileHigh talk on this issue, which you will be able to watch below:

So, what is algae-based ink? Algae ink is a 100% plant-based, renewable, and biodegradable ink that’s made from algae cells and other plant-based materials. The green pigment is derived from the chlorophyll found in cyanobacteria. Other natural occurring stains can produce red, yellow, and orange colors. Algae-based ink can be integrated into many different types of inks as well, such as for flexographic lithographic, gravure and potentially for digital applications as well as printed on nearly all types of packaging substrates.

Why is algae ink more sustainable than soy or water based inks?

Soy and water-based describes the ink’s “carrier”, which is the agent that carries the pigment onto the printing substrate. The transfer process from solvent carriers to water and plant based carriers was definitely a good one for the environment; however, the pigments are still derived from fossil fuels. Algae-based inks on the other hand, takes a huge step forward in terms of the landscape of sustainable inks, as its pigments are derived from algae directly. The ink utilizes water or plant-based carriers and is the most renewable ink available today.

Is algae ink more expensive than regular black ink?

Of course! Currently, algae ink is significantly more expensive to produce than the standard ink. This is partially due to the fact that algae ink is still in the early stages of development, therefore produced at smaller quantities than usual printer inks.

If you would like to learn more about Living Ink and algae ink, please have a look at the links below!

The World's Most Sustainable Ink

Living Ink

Graphics by Haiying Zhang

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