5 Simple Green Changes for Sustainable Screen Printing

by Wendy Croxford

in Ethics & Environment

6 Jan 2022  | 0 Comments

We’re all doing our part in trying to minimise our environmental impact, and you might be looking to do the same with your screen printing either at home or in your business. So how do you make greener choices for your screen printing workflow? Let’s consider why – and how – you might go about this.

Designer @imearthie in Wollongong is an environmentally friendly screen printer who prints with PERMASET eco-friendly inks

First up, why is environmentally friendly screen printing important?

People are valuing sustainable screen printing techniques more than ever before, for a couple of key reasons. On a wider social level we’re all becoming much more conscious about the products we’re buying and using. As well as the environmental and cultural impacts of these purchases, we’re also considering how they might affect our personal health and wellbeing. A few sensible changes can produce a safer, more sustainable and higher-quality product with benefits all round.

5 straight-forward ways to green up your screen printing

Massive positive change is often made through smaller incremental improvements. Wherever possible, consider these changes for your home or professional screen printing workflow.

Master your screen prep

The more precise and thoughtful you are with your screen prep, the less waste and environmental impact you’ll be producing. So:

  • Choose quality screens and accessories that won’t wear out so quickly
  • Work with environmentally friendly screen dehazer and degreaser> Franmar offer some eco-friendly options which are available from Australian Screen Printing Supplies
  • Use an exposure calculator that will give you a more accurate result the first time around.

Choose sustainable fabrics and textiles

An estimated 92 million tonnes of clothing waste ends up in landfill every year around the world. Not only that, but around 60% of our clothing production comes from synthetic fibres such as polyester, acrylic and nylon, which contribute to plastic fibres being distributed in waterways as far away as the Arctic. In fact, it’s believed around 35% of the microplastics that enter the ocean come via synthetic textiles – and we even ingest these fibres too! So what can be done?

As a screen printer you can do your bit by:

  • Choosing natural textiles that will break down and biodegrade
  • Printing on better quality fabrics that can be worn and used for longer (slow fashion not fast fashion)
  • Using linen, hemp or organic cotton, which uses less water in production, and
  • Selecting textiles that are composed of recycled plastics.

Choose environmentally friendly screen printing inks

If you’re committing to sustainable or organic screen printing, it makes sense to use the most environmentally friendly inks available. While PVC-based plastisol ink was once the go-to, many printers now prefer to use water based inks. There’s a reason for this change. Water-based screen print ink was once known as difficult to print with – however, innovative products such as PERMASET AQUA have made it simple to print big, bold results on textiles without any of the phthalates, PVC, CFCs and HCFCs, aromatic hydrocarbons or any volatile solvents associated with plastisol inks. Not only is that better for the environment, it’s also better for your printing team – and the end user or wearer of the product. Be sure to also check out PERMAPRINT PREMIUM sustainable inks for printing on cardboard, metals and more.

Order in bulk (where possible)

It can be difficult and cost-prohibitive to order in bulk if you’re doing small or selective print runs. But wherever possible, ordering in bulk really can minimise the amount of packaging and the carbon emissions that more regular shipments would create. Consider the screen printing equipment, inks and supplies that you can order in every few months, rather than than multiple times per month, and you might even save some money on freight.

Consider ink disposal and waste water

Ink disposal and waste water has long been a concern for screen printing shops, and many studios have complex methods in place to manage the by-products of the process. Plastisol ink and traditional solvents have been known to cause health issues such as respiratory problems and skin conditions, which is why their waste water must be so carefully managed. PERMASET Inks are 85% biodegradable inks which don’t contain harmful chemicals. Still, you can manage waste in a more sustainable way by:

  • Keeping and re-using leftover ink in a clean container
  • Wiping leftover ink from screens for re-use, and disposing of rags or paper towels into landfill
  • Strain solids out of waste water and leave it in the sun to dry, then these dry solids can be disposed of into your garbage.

Visit the PERMASET FAQs page  which includes more information on PERMASET AQUA and more detail on how best to manage safe ink disposal.

Yardage printer Ink & Spindle in Melbourne put PERMATONE Inks to a composting challenge and all that remained was the zip!

Ready to try water based screen print ink?

PERMASET offers an exciting range of mixable organic ink ranges to choose from, including the PERMASET Standard Range of inks for printing light coloured fabrics, Metallic Ink colours for some shimmer, Glow fluorescent ink colours, PERMASET SUPERCOVER Inks for printing directly onto dark coloured fabrics, and the PERMASET Foil FX inks and Puff Paste inks for printing special effects.  Visit the online shop now, or find a stockist in your local area to get your hands on some PERMASET eco-friendly inks, and start printing more sustainably.

PERMASET® INKS DO NOT CONTAIN OZONE DEPLETING CHEMICALS SUCH AS CFCS OR HCFCS. THEY ARE ALSO FORMULATED FREE OF AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS. PERMASET® IS FREE OF VOLATILE ORGANIC SOLVENT AND DOES NOT CONTAIN PVC RESIN OR PHTHALATE PLASTICISER

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