23 September 2022

Changing Tides: Algae Ink

sustainable thinking

Inks are an integral part of packaging – and the environmental impact which petroleum based inks have is a huge source of concern for environmental campaigners and the brands using them. A scientific research paper published in NC State University’s BioResources journal showed that post-recycled fibers can still be contaminated with heavy metals from ink residues.


We’ve seen huge leaps since petroleum based inks were largely exchanged for soy-based inks in the 1980’s – thanks to the rising costs of crude oil there was a need to find alternatives quickly. The first alternative was used in 1987 by newspaper The Gazette in Iowa. Now organic inks, including algae ink can be used across all types of printing including lithographic, flexographic, gravure, and digital.


But why is algae so great as a material for ink? Well, algae is the informal term for a photosynthetic eukaryotic organism that consumes water, sunlight and carbon dioxide for growth. What this means is that it is carbon negative and an incredibly positive move forward in fighting the climate crisis if more companies make it part of their packaging. Because algae consumes trace amounts of minerals and other elements when it breaks down into the earth it is feeding the soil around it, acting as a hyper-energized compost.

The creators of algae ink, Living Ink have stated that with the creation of the their sustainable ink versus crude oil bases:

Every 45 pounds of Algae Ink™ we produce keeps 22.5 pounds of petroleum (crude oil) from being used. That means that 22.5 pounds of oil can’t negatively impact our environment or our air. Additionally, because our ink is carbon negative, using a 45-pound bucket of Algae Ink™ can remove -59 kg of carbon dioxide or like planting four trees!

The natural technology in algae inks is so mind-blowing that it’s been found to change color over time. This led the producer (Living Ink) to create a second ink that allows the algae base within the ink to continue to grow once it’s been created and applied, therefore meaning that the ink changes when exposed to sunlight. 

Do you want to know more about the sustainable options that BPAK offers? Get in touch with the team and we’ll discuss the options open to your brand. You don’t have to compromise on quality to get ethical packaging solutions.