MetaEfficient: Metal-Free Inks by Ecoprint

Not many print houses put much thought into making their production processes more efficient or non-toxic.

Ecoprint, based in the Washington DC area, is different. They have developed their own “eco-inks”. These inks are specially formulated to be free from toxic metals like copper and barium. The Ecoprint shop also runs on 100% wind power, and uses 100% recycled or tree-free paper.

From their web site:

Ecoprint convinced the EPA to help fund our research effort to reformulate the basic printing ink pigments, which are the source of most of the metal toxins remaining in conventional inks (including brands marketed as “soy” inks). Cleaner inks mean a cleaner recycling and de-inking process, and less impact on our land and water.

Ecoprint led the research and hired an ink company as a subcontractor. After 18 months of lab and print testing, new non-toxic pigments were found that are compatible with a vegetable oil base, and which reproduce colors well on conventional offset printing machines.

They’ve also streamlined their product processes to be more efficient:

  • Eliminating alcohol and alcohol substitutes in our press wetting agents. We now use a compound based on non-toxic citric acid and gum arabic, which is entirely non-polluting.
  • Minimization of hazardous waste ink and solvents through a program of recycling and conservation.
  • Significantly reduced paper waste in printing and binding operations through greater efficiency and changes in equipment.
  • Found substitutes for chlorinated hydrocarbons and ozone-depleting chemicals commonly used in the printing process.
  • Installed a closed-loop, effluent-free process for developing and fixing lithographic films.
  • Purchased a high-speed label addressing system that uses a non-polluting water-based ink jet system.
  • Instituted a shop-wide energy efficiency program.

More information: Ecoprint

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