Xerox's Reusable Paper

Almost half of the paper used in American offices is for daily use. It is for display, not storage and, at the end of the day, it's in the trash can. All of the energy that was put into harvesting, processing, and shipping that paper was, in the end, for less than a day's use.

A number of companies are working on alternatives to this procedure. If paper is only used once, then why not create reusable paper? Most recently, Xerox unleashed a prototype printing system with printed sheets that erase themselves in preparation for their next day's work. Beyond the obvious uses in the top-secret, mission impossible sector, Xerox is hoping that the system will decrease the consumption of paper, and thus the cost of running an office.Of course, the system isn't without its disadvantages. Offices would need to buy special paper and special printers to be used specifically for day-use projects. The sheets are automatically blank 16 hours after printing, so if you want that information again, you'll have to reprint. Also, the ink is light purple and the paper is yellow, making for less than ideal reading conditions.

The system is based on 'paper' that contains light sensitive materials. When exposed to certain wavelengths of light, the paper changes to a darker that then slowly fades. Neither the light-sensitive paper, nor the light printers are ready for consumers, but it's good to see Xerox working on alternatives to the amazing waste of today's offices.