Ethics & Environment
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.
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.
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.
Why is everyone talking about eco-friendly inks – and what makes them so different to conventional inks? We thought we’d round up all you need to know about eco-friendly inks in one handy article, right here. Let’s begin!
What exactly are eco-friendly inks?
As the name suggests, eco-friendly inks are those that have minimal impact on the environment. These inks are so differentiated, because for many decades the printing industry has used petroleum-based options such as plastisol screen printing inks. While plastisol inks produce a durable result, they can cause harmful environmental and health impacts during printing and handling: including emitting Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) fumes as they’re heat cured. Most plastisol inks also include phthalate plasticisers, which are found to cause harm to humans and other living organisms. Plastisol inks and the cleaning solvents used for plastisol inks often require specialised disposal because of their environmental impact.
In comparison, eco-friendly inks are designed to produce a vivid, durable print without these harmful effects.
What are the advantages of eco friendly inks?
There are plenty of advantages of choosing a greener ink option. Here are just a handful of the benefits:
- Printed clothing is far safer, without phthalates leaching onto skin or into your laundry water
- If you’re a professional printer, you can proudly promote your sustainable use of inks
- Customers are increasingly turning to eco-friendly products and processes
- You and your shop staff can enjoy a safer workplace without breathing in harsh fumes
- Eco-friendly screen prints on clothing tend to be far softer to touch and nicer to wear (another plus for your customers)
- Eco-friendly inks are vegan: ingredients are not sourced from animals and inks are not tested on animals
- There’s far less need for specialised disposal methods if you’re running a print shop.
PERMASET eco-friendly inks are vegan
What are the most eco-friendly inks available?
This depends a little on what you’re planning to use the inks for. There are three key options when it comes to environmentally friendly inks:
Water-based inks tend to be the best option for colourful screen printing and fabric printing because they can be heat cured for durability and washability. Made from pigments suspended in a water-based medium, water-based inks are easy to clean up and can produce wonderfully vivid prints on fabric and paper: just explore these eco-friendly design ideas as examples.
Soy and vegetable based inks
Vegetable and soy-based inks are ultra low in volatile organic compounds compared to petroleum-based products. They’re typically made from natural oil extracted from plants, mixed with other eco-friendly compounds such as resins and waxes. Soy based ink in particular is popular for newspaper and document printing, but does not produce ultra vivid colours in all settings.
UV inks are applied as a liquid form but turn solid within seconds once they’re exposed to UV light. One of the biggest benefits of UV inks is the speed at which you can print with them; all without having to worry about VOCs or harsh solvents in the process.
We’ve dedicated a great deal of time to developing our PERMASET AQUA®, PERMATONE® and PERMAPRINT Premium® ink ranges, which are all water-based. None of these inks contain toxic chemicals, lead or heavy metals. Our PERMATONE range of inks has passed the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 Class 1 with flying colours, meaning they’re safe to use even on baby clothes and underwear. In addition, our PERMATONE® range of ink has also been granted Approval by the Soil Association of the UK (GOTS V6), meeting the Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS 6.0) for non-organic chemical inputs for use in organic textile processing.
Vegan brand @care.wears uses PERMASET eco-friendly inks because they aren’t
tested on animals and contain no animal products
We’re delighted that our range of eco-friendly inks are in use by hobbyists and professional screen printers alike, right across the world. Explore the range for yourself today, or read our 5 quick tips for working with safe to use, eco friendly inks.
Most screen printers and artisans are aware that PERMASET® screen printing inks are water-based and eco-friendly. PERMASET Inks do not contain ozone depleting chemicals such as CFCs or HCFCs. They are also formulated free of aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic solvent and do not contain PVC resin or phthalate plasticiser. PERMASET Inks do not contain lead, heavy metals or any toxic chemicals whatsoever (not even white spirits like other water-based inks on the market). However are PERMASET Inks compostable?
PERMASET Inks Put to a Compost Challenge
PERMASET eco-friendly ink prints were recently put to a compost challenge by Melbourne yardage designer Ink and Spindle, and passed with flying colours. All that was left of this cushion cover (which was printed with PERMASET inks) after 4 weeks in a worm farm was the zip!
85% Biodegradable Screen Printing Ink
PERMASET Inks are 85% biodegradable making them the perfect choice for screen printers printing organic garments and fabrics including hemp, linen and organic cotton. This means that the ink is capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.
For further information about PERMASET’s environmental initiatives visit our Sustainability page
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