TIPPING POINT – ARCHITECTS OF THE FUTURE
16. Krishna Gopal Singh
Recycling paper may be a great step to reducing your carbon footprint, but have you ever thought about the ink used to print on those reams? Turns out itâ€™s the environmental equivalent of a serial killer â€” and a New Delhi-based company is taking the challenge head on.
KG SINGH ANDÂ Sidhartha Bhimania set up EnNatura. By outsourcing the manufacturing to small companies, they got by without making major capital investments. But getting companies to use the ink was another matter. They paid companies to use the product. The gamble paid off. But they didnâ€™t have enough money to produce quantities to meet the demand. They switched strategies by going to publishers and NGOs who were interested in green issues rather than printers themselves. With funding from the government and a venture capitalist, they have been able to get their dream off the ground.
THE OFFSETÂ printing business â€” think media, publishing, advertising and packaging, to name a few industries â€” consumes more than 3 million tonnes of hydrocarbon-based printing ink and chemicals, and emits over 5 lakh tonnes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) annually. Apart from posing a serious threat to workers in the printing industry, VOCs are massive contributors to global warming. The key health and environmental challenge is posed by the petroleum component of ink, released as emissions during the drying and washing process. The resulting photochemical smog not only depletes the ozone layer, it can be linked to respiratory ailments in workers, including tuberculosis and an increased risk of cancer.
KRISHNA GOPAL SINGH,Â a chemical engineer from IIT Delhi, and his friend Sidhartha Bhimania were brainstorming ideas for a start-up when they discussed it with their professor, who, it turned out, was working on ink. The solution seemed obvious: develop an ink that had negligible emissions. The challenge wasnâ€™t just in developing eco-friendly ink though; it was in ensuring that this ink gave the same spectacular printing results and vivid colours as the conventional variety.