Photocopying has notoriously been considered a relatively wasteful activity. Once printed upon, much output from a copier is barely used and exists purely for the sake of keeping records. Many of these records are only required for a short time and then the paper becomes an energy-consuming recycling activity. Even when recycled, the energy used to process this unused but unusable paper is never regained. In addition, the resulting pulp only makes cheaper paper products down the line.
In an attempt to thwart this energy waste from photocopiers, Toshiba came up with the bright idea of re-usable copier paper. This sounds a little crazy but they produced photocopier toner that can be removed leaving previously photocopied paper completely blank again. This means that the papaer can be re-used in the copier. Technology never ceases to amaze! According to Toshiba their copier eraser system works up to five times so potentially a piece of copier paper could be re-used that many times.
Will re-usable copier paper increase copier lease costs?
Will copier lease service bills rise as more copier paper jams occur. Imagine users who will attempt to shove a dog-eared document through the copier for the ninth time. Copier lease companies might have to reconsider their copier lease agreements relating to service seriously if (and most likely when) these machines come into mainstream use in copier lease environments where service is included in the copier lease.
The next problem is that of the security of the documents copied that you DO want to keep. Although we all want to have a sustainable environment – a very worthy cause – we also need sustainable copies in many situations. Apparently, according to the Japanese Press Release from Toshiba, these “green” copiers use heat to remove the previously copied print. Is this going to be the downfall of reusable paper?
Would an unusually hot environment such as a window sill in direct sunlight therefore cause all of this months’ invoices to suddenly disappear? Even small instances of heat exposure could cause areas of the page to vanish. This does not bode well for those who use copied documents and then perhaps add a signature at the bottom – the document you sign may not be the same after a hot coffee cup is placed on it. If heat can remove the contents of a photocopied page then copied pages using such technology may as well be written in pencil – at least pencil leaves an impression which can be recovered. Perhaps a means of choosing whether copies are erasable/non-erasable might help but it looks like more effort in development will be required before a large proportion of business will be able to confidently use such photocopier eraser systems.
On the plus side there will undoubtedly be a market for these copier machines and they are sure to be good for the environment. What is for sure is that reusing paper in copiers will be a great thing but only if the technology pans out. Service agreements for copier lease on these products might have to be ironed out at the same rate as the re-usable paper unless the technology can guarantee no increase in copier service callouts! Perhaps the mechanism allows for the paper to be re-milled as it passes through – we’ll have to wait and see what Toshiba (and no doubt other copier makers) will come up with.