Since the early 1960s, petroleum-based inks have been used in printing industries regardless of its adverse effect to the environment. The main reasons for overreliance on petroleum-based inks were because of its efficient in the application and quick drying. The inks have high percentages of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and therefore, notorious pollutant of the environment; they are non-biodegradable, and their waste products cannot be recycled. In fact, in UK, it is estimated as the fourth industry with high levels of pollution because of high use of chemicals, energy and the associated harmful waste produced.
Vegetable-based inks in the recent years have acquired the interests of many industries all over the world as government policies on environmental pollution emphasize on a clean environment. These inks have lower emissions of VOCs when it is contaminated with the environment as compared to their counterpart petroleum-based inks. They are highly biodegradable, and they can be recycled hence they are environmental friendlier than petroleum-based oils. Moreover, vegetable-based inks are produced using the sustainable domestic raw materials such as soybeans, linseeds and other vegetables thereby demanding cheaper cost on labour and raw materials as compared to petroleum which has to be imported.
Vegetable-based inks more expensive than petroleum-based oil; they cost about 10% more. However, it is more efficient and economical to use soy-based ink since it spreads about fifteen percent more than petroleum-based inks, thence little amount of ink used spreads a wider surface. Also, since the colours of soy-based ink are brighter, little ink is utilized; consequently large volume of work can be done resulting into overall reduction on the cost of using soy-based inks. The current market size of vegetable-based inks ranges from ?200 to500 million in UK.
Due to the fact that eco-friendly inks is being advocated by government agencies, the market is flooded with many industries specializing on production of vegetable-based inks setting up stiff competition for instance, the Big Sky company which specializes on 100% renewable material. In addition, the regular oil price fluctuations and continuous depletion of the commodity makes it necessary to venture into other alternatives of ink production.
Using PESTEL tool of analysis in evaluating the impact of technological change in the business of vegetable-based inks, it is evident that human demands change with time calling for technological advancement in moving along the updates sophisticated press machines that require diverse characteristics of pigments used in the production of these inks. Technology is a vital element when it comes in controlling and managing work in the company, it facilitates efficient and smooth running of activities within and outside the company; furthermore, it establishes a connection to the outside world through promotion of the products.
From the analysis using PESTEL tool, environment is a key factor to consider in Eco-friendly ink production process. Ink manufacturing involves managing and reducing the impact to the environment by the inks. EU has specification and requirements that ensure the safety of the users of the ink in regard to the raw materials used to manufacture the ink having restrictions on hazardous substances.
Some of the most hazardous substances include mercury, lead and cadmium and should not be deliberately used in the manufacture of inks in levels that trigger hazardous classification. According to The Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers (ETADOPM), inks should be free of any known heavy metals and carcinogenic dyes. Manufacturing of vegetable based inks provides a long term solution to the environmental health and safety. Vegetable oils used o manufacture printing inks contains nitrocellulose that is derived from cellulose materials.
Vegetable inks have been replacing and eliminating most of the hazards based on petroleum oil inks that facilitate ozone depletion as well as volatile organic compounds. In economic perspective, black soy inks are expensively priced with petroleum based inks with black soy ink costing 25% more expensive. The increase in price is basically due to reduced amount of resin required to colour the soy ink. Production of soy or vegetable oil based inks have a benefit if recycling process, reduced emissions as well as slashed manufacturing cost therefore, enabling the company to establish itself in the market.