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As long as computers are widely used in the workplace, one speaks of a “paperless office”, in which everything takes place on screens instead of piles of paper. But there is a problem: offices simply cannot abandon paper for good and still view it as an essential medium for conveying information. (Or at least something that can be used on the “Not Working” signs that must be regularly posted on the photocopier.)
What’s the answer? According to Epson, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer printers and other related technologies, it’s easy: just build a machine that can quickly recycle used sheets of paper into sparkling clean new, empty sheets of paper.
That’s what it developed with PaperLab, which promises to save money and reduce waste and CO2 emissions by allowing companies to recycle paper on site (or, as Epson puts it, “upcycle”). For this purpose, waste paper is shredded and this material is then converted into all new sheets at a speed of 14 A4 pieces of paper per minute. In the course of one working day, this means around 6,720 new sheets. And that with 98 percent less water than with conventional paper recycling.
“You have paper that you can use right away,” Sergio Aguasca, Epson product manager, told Digital Trends. “You don’t have to wait until the paper is cold or warm. You can immediately use it for writing or printing – in an Epson printer, in a competitor printer, in a laser printer, in an inkjet printer, no problem. We always prefer the customer to use an Epson printer, but on this point of [environmental] Responsibility, we produce paper that is suitable for any other competitor or use. “
Epson provided samples of the paper to Digital Trends. It can be made in a variety of sizes and colors and appears to be of sufficient quality for most of the printing in the workplace. Each piece of paper can reportedly be recycled six or seven times before it degrades completely, although adding new, fresh paper to the mix can make this a lot longer.
Epson has been using PaperLab in its native Japan for a number of years, but it is now being rolled out in Europe. If everything goes according to plan, it will be much longer in the US.
Aguasca said there are various arrangements in place for companies wanting to get their hands on a unit, from buying a unit to leasing it. The leasing strategy is Epson’s “primary sales approach”. On average, it costs around 5,000 euros per month ($ 5,900), including all services and supplies with a term of seven years.