New Removable Toner Erases Wasteful Printing

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Printer that allows ink to be erased




Less paper wasted and a smaller carbon footprint


Despite the countless predictions of offices around the world moving towards eliminating the use of paper in favor of digital alternatives, anyone who has ever stepped into an office knows that this isn’t the case. Printing is pervasive as ever, which has led to some companies to rethink these demands in a resource-scarce world. Toshiba is leading the way in this area, unveiling a multifunction printer that can erase ink from paper for reuse for up to four times. By utilizing a specialized toner, the color printed on the paper is removed by exposing it to high temperatures. This heat friction technique is known as FriXion Ball – and while the deleted toner can still be faintly seen, it provides a viable alternative to recycling unwanted print outs. In partnering with Toshiba, Pilot is releasing a pen that uses the same ink; so even if the paper has been written on, the printer will still be reusable.

Of course, the notion of reusing paper that has already been printed on introduces a number of logistical problems. Luckily, Toshiba has put some thought into this product – most importantly, the system can detect when a sheet of paper can’t be used anymore, spitting it out into a different tray. There also may be other scenarios where a print out is no longer physical needed, but a digital copy must be retained. Before deleting the previous sheet, the printer offers the option to scan the sheet, allowing it to be saved digitally.

Through this creative solution, Toshiba claims that the systems can reduce total CO2 emissions up to 57 percent. In addition to that, a number of the components are made from bioplastics, indicating that printing sustainably may not mean stopping completely, but being smarter about it.

Drew Nitschke is a first-year graduate student at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, working towards degree in Environmental Economics and Policy. He is especially interested in sustainability and how it relates to business of all sizes. He graduated from UCLA in June 2012 after...
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