Adverse Effects of Printing Ink on Environment
Major Threats 2
Recommended Counter-action 4
In an age where we aspire to reach the other parts of the galaxy, we are bound by our own tendencies of self-destruction. Knowingly and unknowingly, we are day by day dumping so much waste onto our environment which it possibly cannot handle because it is not natural for our ecosystem to co-exist with poisonous chemicals and non-perishable waste materials. It is our fault therefore our responsibility to work towards a cleaner planet and that too as soon as possible because the rate at which we are polluting the planet, we are doomed on earth as we haven’t found another planet to reside.
One of the abundant pollutants found on earth are chemicals and plastic wastage generated from toner cartridges being incessantly used in an increasing quantity day by day. The trend of recycling hasn’t still caught on as widely as it should have. Ranging from small shops to huge multinational organizations, all of them use printing ink abundantly on a daily basis. (What Effect Does Ink Cartridge Waste Have on the Environment, 2012) It is also evident that all of them make an effort to recycle ink cartridges but it is also evident that it is not enough. The amount of ink cartridges going through recycling is 2.5 million but contrary to that, 10 million cartridges end up in garbage and landfill sites. According to a study, if 18 million cartridges get dumped into garbage, it will result in the generation of 3,000 tons of plastic wastage, 2500 toxic metals and 400 tons of aluminum and considering the fact that 3000 tons of plastic would take some centuries to degenerate. (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1994) Additional to that, Toulene (a chemical extensively used in ink cartridges and marker pens) is released into the environment through air and soil leading to contamination of ground water. It affects human beings in a number of ways like permanent brain damage, liver damage, lung damage, unconsciousness and death. (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1994)The brain damage occurring through it shows effects like hearing loss, memory loss and loss of muscle control. The consumption of toulene is likely to increase due to its extensive usage in printing ink, paints, perfumes and cosmetics.
The economic impact regarding usage of toxic ink is that there is no low point for consumers as the options under use are feasible and the safer alternatives are costlier and it would take up more resources to adapt to an environmentally healthier option. So there is a lack of initiative on the part of the organization consuming the toner cartridges. (Nelson, Carney, Wille-Irmiter, Bopp, & Ballew, 2011)
The social outlook towards the awaiting calamity is rising but not up to mark and non government organizations have to develop awareness among people to motivate the organizations and consumers to switch to healthier options and there is a requirement for the people who are aware to plead the government and the raw material producers to develop a safer option to be available easily at a reasonable price as a duty to the environment we are residing in. There are groups who are trying their best to promote recycling and motivating others to adapt to a better option but it hasn’t been enough to bring a substantial change in the current situation which requires the governments to step to the cause. (Gaidajis, Angelakoglou, & Aktsoglou, 2010)
Another critical thing to lend an ear is that our planet can handle only certain amount/percentage of carbon dioxide in the environment and when it turns into an excessive amount, it generates heat in our atmosphere which directly amounts to increase in the global warming phenomena hovering over us. And the shocking fact is that we are dumping 6 times the normal amount of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. The carbon dioxide connection to printing ink is that production of one toner cartridge leads to emission of 4.8 kg of carbon dioxide and following that, calculating that amount with the amount of toner cartridges being dumped into the environment will generate a clear idea of the level at which we are chasing self-destruction. (Occupational Safety and health Coucil, 2004)
Another thing to take into account is that the effects discussed earlier were the effects of direct usage and disposal on environment and our health. The element not to be disregarded in this process is the extent of damage happening to the people involved in the production of ink cartridges. The majority of facilities producing ink cartridges are located in Southeast Asia. One of the chemical involved in the production of these cartridges is PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate). The short term effects of exposure to this chemical are similar to the drug ecstasy which includes symptoms like sleep disturbances, nervous system disorders and loss of coordination. Since PMMA is inserted into the ink to make it resistant to water and ultra violet rays, it does not disintegrate in water and when it reaches the landfill sites or water bodies, it causes long terms effects like disrupting the entre aquatic food web, making fish around the area uneatable, making vegetation around its sizable area uneatable as it pollutes the ground water and the cleaning process involved in the cleaning process of this chemical is very expensive. (Hackworth, n.a)
There are several effective ways to tackle this problem which would efficiently counter-act on the ill effects caused by the print-ink related pollution if people collectively act on the counter measure. Graphic designing choices regarding the printing process would amount to efficient decrease in the usage of ink collectively decreasing the amount of ink used. At the later stage of cutting and binding, using the appropriate image and paper sizes per printing sheet will minimize the amount of paper and ink used. There should be awareness regarding the toxins and hazardous pigments involved in the printing process and should be provided with better alternatives to the process. (Hackworth, n.a) A counter action to the printing process should be the use of non –coated and non bleached paper and recycling more and more amounts of paper used. An efficient alternative would also be to digitize content and transfer the process of documenting and storing paperwork in a digital medium whenever possible which would result in decreased usage of printing process at a global level. (World Health Organization, 2014)
Gaidajis, G., Angelakoglou, K., & Aktsoglou, D. (2010). E-waste: Environmental Problems and Current Management. Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review , 193-199.
Hackworth, H. (n.a). Paper, Printing & The Environment. Retrieved 10 8, 2014, from www.earthgreetings.com: ttps://web.archive.org/web/20100901200532/http://www.earthgreetings.com.au/htm%20pages/environment/paper&environment.html
Nelson, J., Carney, L., Wille-Irmiter, J., Bopp, K., & Ballew, S. (2011). Life-Cycle Impact of Toner and Ink for CU-Boulder. Printers, Printing and Print Behavior: Status , 25-51.
Occupational Safety and health Coucil. (2004). Guidance Notes on Chemical Safety in Printing Industry. Labour Department .
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1994). CHEMICALS IN THE ENVIRONMENT: TOLUENE. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What Effect Does Ink Cartridge Waste Have on the Environment. (2012, 5 12). Retrieved 10 8, 2014, from www.globalwarmingisreal.com: http://globalwarmingisreal.com/2012/07/12/what-effect-does-ink-cartridge-waste-have-on-the-environment/
World Health Organization. (2014, 4). Dioxins and their effects on human health. Retrieved 10 8, 2014, from http://www.who.int: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/