According to Michael Kanellos, writing for the CNET News Green Tech Blog, “The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and parent company Xerox are experimenting with a type of paper and a complementary printer that would produce documents that fade away after 16 to 24 hours.” This technology, which uses special paper coated with photosensitive chemicals, could be available to consumers within the next few years.
“Not every document is right for reusable paper,” writes Kanellos. “Presentations and legal contracts probably need to be printed on something more permanent. But lunch menus, daily work summaries, and memos from meetings can all potentially take advantage of this. Xerox says that 44.5 percent of documents are printed for one-time use and 25 percent of all documents printed get recycled the same day.”
While these new papers and printers will be more expensive than those in common use today, the potential energy savings are substantial. In addition to the energy saved in lowering the production of new sheets of paper, Kanellos’ article suggests that reusing a sheet of paper with Xerox’s new system will consume between roughly a tenth and half as much energy as ordinary printing on a conventional 8 x 11.5 sheet of paper.