Reusable Plastic 'Paper' May Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Electronics giant Toshiba has developed a new form of printer that uses plastic instead of paper, allowing the same sheet to be erased and reprinted up to 500 times. The company is claiming that this will result in a significant reduction of greenhouse gases by allowing organizations to cut their paper consumption dramatically. They also argue that the printer’s production process creates significantly less emissions than that of a standard printer.Apparently the principles behind the technology are nothing new, the concept is basically an update of thermal printing technology that has been around since the Seventies. Toshiba do not expect such printers to replace standard paper printing entirely – it would not be appropriate for documents that need to be kept and stored, for example. The most likely application will be for disposable printing, such as picking lists for staff in warehouses, where there is no need to retain the document for a company’s records. Presumably it would also be useful for those of us who find it difficult to read long documents on screen, but who don't want to keep everything we print out.

The machine has been available in Japan since July, but may not make it to Europe until 2008. No news on when North America, or other parts of the world, may see it hit the market. Aside from the BBC report we link to above, you can also find a demonstration of the machine on YouTube here. Not exactly thrilling viewing, but it’s nice to see it works.

[Written by: Sami Grover]

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