Ink is one of the oldest substances in the world - as early as 3000 BC. In BC Egypt, and 400 years later China, ink was made from soot and gum water. The binding agent came from the naturally obtained raw material tree resin. Not until 1000 BC. the Far East replaced ink with Indian ink. This consists of the soot from burnt coniferous charcoal, lamp oil and a glue mixed with gelatine. Depending on the addition of water, the desired covering graft is achieved. The process is still used today in calligraphy.
The current market leader in the "printing industry" is China. Despite the distance and the resulting transport costs, book printing in China is more profitable than printing at the local print shop due to the lower material and production costs for large volumes of books. This not only applies to the book industry, but also to the packaging industry. That is not sustainable and environmentally friendly. Thanks to the order and delivery restrictions caused by the pandemic, publishers are now ordering from local print shops again. With this revival and the subsequent profit, printing companies could invest in more sustainable printing processes and materials, such as B. in a more energy-saving printing device. The demand for printer devices on the European market is increasing again. China is still the global pioneer.
The conversion of publishers to ecological and local printing processes is a question of willingness, costs and feasibility.
The conventional pigments for printing inks are made from chemically created derivatives, so-called derivatives from the basic substance. The basic substance is benzene, a liquid and toxic carbon found in mineral oils. Since derivatives are not original chemical benzene compounds, they are considered mineral oil-free without further information from the ink industry and are required as the main component for the binding agent of printing inks. Only about 30 percent of the binding agent consists of renewable raw materials.
Large manufacturers like "InkTec" advertise with the ecological production and a ladybug on the label. The manufacturer states that none of the products come from organic or vegan production and that they are not tested on animals. There is a lack of transparency and certificates from independent institutes in the printing industry. That makes exploring all of the ingredients as good as impossible. Manufacturers who use 100 percent linseed oil or soybean oil for the binding agent receive certificates. The supply routes, the large-scale cultivation with pesticides and the necessary deforestation are neither taken into account in certificate tests for veganity nor mentioned on the manufacturer's website.
We recommend that consumers and buyers obtain information from the printer and, if necessary, request a list of the ingredients.
Many authors print out their works and then send them in by post, as requested by some publishers on the website. In order to keep the consumption of effort and resources low, some publishers indicate a maximum number of pages and do not send the manuscripts back to the author, but dispose of the printed paper in the “blue bin” or at recycling centers. In order to avoid misunderstandings, the publishers advise you to only send unbound printed manuscripts that fit the publisher's program. The authors, especially with smaller publishers, are seldom offered to send them in by e-mail.
The bottom line is: Large publishers are further ahead in digitization. One of the reasons for this is that the process optimizations for larger publishers can be implemented more quickly and are more worthwhile than for publishers with little capital.
With this change, the paper, the printing ink, the transport route and the disposal of the manuscripts will no longer be necessary. The publisher can also skim through, save or save the scripts more quickly and, if necessary, reply directly to the author if interested. The deletion of unwanted manuscripts is quick and leaves no disposal products. Sounds like a win-win situation for the publisher and for the authors.
One thing to consider is that the use of technical devices and data processing consume a lot of electricity. In addition, publishers sometimes have to have their data secured by data centers and companies. Therefore, purchasing green electricity will be an important change for the print industry in the long term.
At Greenzeen, we strongly believe in sustainable alternatives to print, compensating energy consumption and creating awareness around these subject.