Water based ink may not be as eco-friendly as you think. Some companies would have you believe that the water based ink products that they manufacture and/or sell are somehow better for the environment than plastisol ink. While it would seem obvious that ink that uses water for its base is more eco-friendly than ink that uses a petroleum base, the logic just does hold up when you think through the process.
Water based inks begin to dry the second the ink is applied to the screen. In hot and/or arid environments water based ink may be completely dry in just a matter of minutes. For this reason, any excess ink is usually washed away when the screen is cleaned and makes it’s way down the drain pigments and all. Plastisol ink on the other hand does not begin to cure until it is heated under a dryer. Consequently unused plastisol can be cleaned from the screen, placed back in the bucket and reused for future prints.
If cleaned correctly a screen used to print plastisol should have no more than a slight ink residue that can be wiped away with a cloth and an eco-friendly cleanser. No ink down the drain and more money in your pocket. Sure there are arguments to be made for both types of ink, and both really are great options. But if it’s eco-friendly you’re looking for, don’t be fooled by green text and pictures of leaves.