Technologies for the Reuse of Printed Paper in the Office
|Climate change gas emissions from the paper industry are significant and growing. Global production of cut-size papers in 2001 alone will result in 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions; emissions are projected to increase 10-fold over the next 50 years. Potential exists to reduce emissions from cut-size papers through the reuse of printed paper in the office. Creative thinking techniques were used to perform a broad based search for reversible printing technologies (those which allow for repeated printing and un-printing of paper). The result was a Catalogue of Reversible Printing Ideas, prioritised according to their re-print potential.
A programme of experimentation was undertaken to: measure contrast removal from a range of print/paper combinations, optimise the removal process and assess the re-print potential of promising combinations. Contrast was removed using an existing abrasion method and a newly designed scraping technique. Results show significant variation in contrast removal across the print/paper combinations (10% to 100% for abrasion and 12% to 98% for scraping). The microporous absorption layer in photo-paper was found to be abraded sacrificially producing exceptional unprinting results. Toner print was completely removed from transparency film using the scraping mechanism; five re-print cycles were achieved with no visible damage sustained to the film. This rivals conventional offsite recycling techniques.
Experimental results show that a technology for the reuse of printed office paper is still technically feasible. Further research should seek to develop a demonstration-level desktop-machine for use in the office.