Reduse invent printer to remove ink
Reduse is a startup based in Cambridge University and led by Hidde-Jan Lemstra. The company started off as a university project before turning into a start-up with a very simple principle: reduse aims to remove ink from paper.
The company believe that their “unprinters” are the logical progression to the current technology used in printers.
During the introduction of IT in business in the late 70s, it was thought that paper would disappear but, nearly 30 years later, we continue to consume 10,000 sheets of paper per person on average per year. Even more damagingly for the environment is the fact that we throw away or waste 40% of this total.
Reduse aims to recover paper by removing the ink that has been printed on them with the company claiming that their laser-based technology is capable of reducing costs by 40%.
This figure is obtained by adding several factors: firstly, the paper consumption per se, but also the costs of waste collection and paper recycling.
We know that large companies engaged in a selective sorting process employ specialized companies to recycle their paper, so it is clear that reusable paper would cut down on those expenses.
Another not inconsequential advantage is that paper recycling emits more CO2 than producing paper so by reducing the volume of recycled paper, we will therefore improve the overall environmental impact.
But how far can such a solution go?
Firstly, Hidde-Jan Lemstra notes that “only” 65% of the sheets can theoretically be reused. The machine can process these sheets: they simply cannot, however, be reused later. Indeed, it is impossible to get rid of staples, tasks or any other holes without permanently damaging the paper.
Similarly, the system is not able to get rid of handwriting unless the ink used is specially designed for this purpose.
Perhaps in the future it is conceivable that we can consider making paper specially designed to be “unprinted” and reused and, therefore, better able to endure the process.
Reduse’s initial objective is to have an unprinter next to each printer and, ultimately, to have a single device capable of both printing and unprinting.
A similar system is already in development by Toshiba, but only for blue print and compatible only with special ink.