Back in the 1970s, the oil-producing countries were at odds with oil-buying countries like the United States. And most of the inks of the day were petroleum-based inks. This created a problem in both hassle and expense for American printers, including newspapers. Powerful companies began looking for answers and demanding alternatives.
This spurred ink companies experimenting with vegetable-based oils to create accessibility and affordability. In addition, vegetable sources were also sought to reduce the environmental impact of ink production and use. Of course, environmentalists would love to believe that was the primary focus, but for most big companies, it was just a side benefit, with the financial bottom line being the driving force behind the change, for most newspapers and printers.
Harris LithoGraphics is an ink company that was one of the first to custom mix vegetable inks, reducing the waste created by pre-manufacturing ink and keeping it in stock. Their focus is actually on serving the environmentally-minded printer. Without using any petroleum in their inks, the company is able to prevent the release of VOCs into the air during manufacture.
Soy ink is one type of vegetable ink that gets the most use and is favored by almost all newspaper printers and a quarter of commercial printers. But there are other vegetable inks using blends of other oils and plant matter. Some believe it is preferable to use vegetable inks other than soy so that there is no competition with the production of biofuel made with soy. And some of the inks produce even less than 1% VOCs, which beats even soy inks.
Earth Pride is a brand of inks using environmentally responsible materials and methods to produce high quality vegetable inks. Their inks can be UV cured for rapid drying and are also resistant to bleeding, keeping a nice sharp printed image. They can also be foil stamped, aqueous coated, or solvent laminated. Vegetable inks may be the next big thing in printing.