Soy Ink: Five Ways It’s Better for the Environment

Soy Ink: Five Ways It’s Better for the Environment

01 Apr 2023

Nowadays, more and more people read the news, or different kinds of content on their mobile phones, tablets and computers. Although we might think that the use of our precious gadgets has drastically reduced paper consumption in the last decade or two, this is actually not the case. We are still very much surrounded by printed products in our everyday lives. Think of bills, receipts, restaurant menus, brochures, office documents, contracts, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, books, packaging, and you will get the picture. While we all know that opting for recycled paper instead of virgin paper is a responsible thing to do, as it saves trees and is good for the environment, we hardly ever think about how the text and images got on our pages and what type of ink was used in the process.

Soybeans Field

Petroleum-based Ink and why it is bad

Petroleum-based ink, also known as traditional ink, is widely used in the printing industry, including newspapers, magazines, and commercial printing. However, it has several negative impacts on the environment.

Traditional ink is typically made by combining petroleum distillates with a variety of other chemicals and pigments to create a liquid ink. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, which means that its extraction and use contribute to the depletion of finite natural resources over time.

The production process itself requires a significant amount of energy, and it also generates a large amount of greenhouse gas emission which contributes to climate change. The chemicals used for its production can be harmful for both human health and the environment.

In addition, petroleum-based ink can be difficult to recycle, as it can contaminate the recycling process and reduce the quality of the recycled paper. This then leads to more waste going to landfills, which have negative environmental impacts. If not disposed of properly, petroleum-based ink can contaminate soil and water, harming wildlife and ecosystems.

The alternative to petroleum-based ink

Back in the 1970s, due to the rising prices of petroleum, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) started looking for more affordable alternatives to the traditional, petroleum-based ink. After testing different vegetable oils, they found that soybean oil was the best choice.

Apart from being more cost-effective, it was discovered that soy ink produced more vibrant and intense colours, which meant that the quality did not have to be sacrificed for the sake of cost reduction.

Climate Positive Packaging

While saving money is probably a good enough reason for everyone, there are other, at least five more important reasons why we should switch to the use of soy ink, and they can all be put under the same umbrella- it is better for the environment. If you would like to find out what they are, please read on.  

Five ways soy ink is better for the environment

1. Soy ink is made from a renewable resource

Soy ink is made from soybeans, which are a renewable resource. This means that they can be grown and harvested year after year without depleting the earth's natural resources. In contrast, as already mentioned, petroleum-based ink is made from non-renewable resources, which are finite and will eventually run out. Furthermore, soybeans fix nitrogen in the soil, which means they can improve soil quality and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This helps to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce the environmental impact of farming.

2. Soy ink reduces greenhouse gas emissions

The production of soy ink requires less energy than the production of petroleum-based ink. As a result, soy ink has a much smaller carbon footprint than petroleum-based ink, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere. Implementing carbon offset strategies and prioritizing sustainable production methods is of utmost importance.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the manufacturing process for soy ink produces a significantly smaller percentage of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than traditional petroleum-based inks. VOCs are a group of carbon-based chemicals that are emitted as gases from various sources (in this case, they evaporate off the paper surface). While not all VOCs are harmful, some can have negative effects on human health and the environment.

Exposure to high levels of certain VOCs can cause eyes, nose, and throat irritation, as well as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Long-term exposure to some VOCs has been linked to increased risk of cancer, liver damage, and damage to the central nervous system.

VOCs can also contribute to air pollution and the formation of smog, which can cause respiratory problems, especially in vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with respiratory illnesses.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a major contributor to climate change, and reducing our carbon footprint is essential for protecting the environment.

Writing Soy Ink on Paper

3. Soy ink is easier to recycle

Soy ink is easier to remove from paper during the recycling process than petroleum-based ink. This is because soy ink is more soluble in water, which makes it easier to break down and remove from the paper fibres. In contrast, petroleum-based ink can be difficult to remove and can contaminate the recycling process.

By using soy ink, companies and organizations can improve their recycling efforts and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. More paper that can be recycled and reused means fewer trees that need to be cut down and less energy that needs to be used in the process of new, virgin paper production.

4. Soy ink is less toxic than petroleum-based ink

Petroleum-based ink contains harmful chemicals and carcinogens, such as heavy metals and volatile organic compounds, which can have negative effects on both the environment and human health. These chemicals contribute to air, soil and water pollution and can have a long-term negative environmental impact. In contrast, soy ink is made from natural ingredients, contains fewer harmful chemicals and is therefore less toxic. It is made from soy oil, which is then usually mixed with naturally based resins and waxes.

Containing mostly natural ingredients also means that soy ink can degrade up to four times faster than petroleum-based ink. This makes soy ink a better choice for both individuals and businesses that are looking to reduce their impact on the environment and promote a healthier work environment.

5. Brighter colours

Because it is much clearer and not as ‘oily’ as petroleum-based ink, soy ink produces brighter, more vibrant colours and sharper images than traditional ink, thus providing a better print quality. While you probably find this feature more eye-friendly, you might wonder how it makes soy ink more environmentally-friendly.  Well, this particular trait means that less ink is needed to be used to achieve the same level of colour saturation. This reduces the amount of ink that needs to be produced, used and then disposed of, which lowers the overall environmental impact of printing.

Soy ink: local sustainability and economic growth

Soy is grown in many countries around the world, including the United States, Brazil, Argentina, China, and Japan. The United States are considered to be one of the largest producers and users of soy ink globally. These countries can reap additional benefits of growing soybeans and producing soy ink. The production of soy ink supports local farmers and the domestic economy, and reduces the need for importing ink from other countries. When soybeans are sourced locally, they do not have to be transported over long distances, which reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases associated with transportation and shipping. Additionally, by supporting local farmers and using domestically produced soy ink, companies and organizations can contribute to a more sustainable future and promote economic growth in their local communities.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, soybeans are a sustainable and renewable resource that can be grown and harvested year after year without depleting natural resources. They also help to promote soil health and prevent erosion, which is important for maintaining healthy ecosystems.


In conclusion, using soy ink as a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to the traditional, petroleum-based ink is a win-win. As already stated, it is much better for the environment for various reasons, but it also offers other benefits. Often, choosing cheaper options in the production process means sacrificing the quality of the product. Soy ink is not only more cost-effective, but it also provides better quality of print. It is very versatile as well, and can be used for printing on all kinds of materials, including paper, cardboard and plastic. As it does not contain toxic chemicals, and is sterile, it is safe to be used in food, medical and cosmetic packaging. With so many benefits to offer, soy ink is a smart and responsible choice for anyone looking to reduce their environmental impact and promote a healthier planet.

Natural Grass Pen Soy Ink Refill

So, whether you're printing newspapers, magazines, books, marketing materials or producing packaging, consider switching to soy ink and take a step towards a more sustainable future. Also, consider our natural grass pen, a sustainable writing option that uses soy ink. Made from renewable resources and featuring eco-friendly soy-based ink, our pen offers a greener alternative for conscious consumers who care about the environment.

Here at agood company, we like to ‘practice what we preach’. We not only strive to raise awareness of the state of our planet and the actions that can be taken to preserve it, but we are also committed to doing our part in building a more sustainable world. This is why we have chosen to use soy ink in the production of some of our products, such as stone paper notebook and our packaging material. 



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