The average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year: that’s an annual four million tons, according to the Clean Air Council and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). What if you and your work colleagues could recycle and re-create paper right at the office while taking a 3-minute tea break?

This idea is a soon-to-be reality. Seiko Epson Corporation—a.k.a. Epson, a Japanese electronics company and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer printers—has designed the world’s first company office papermaking (and recycling) system called the PaperLab. The PaperLab is a 200-square-foot paper recycling machine that accepts a sheet of inked-up paper and within three minutes pops-out a fresh piece at the other end.

How it Works

Using a water-free, three-step process, the PaperLab is capable of producing 14 sheet per minute, or 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour day (that’s more than half of what the average office worker in the U.S. tosses out.)
  1. Using Epson’s new Dry Fiber Technology, a sheet of paper is first transformed into thin, cotton-like fibers.
  2. Binders—chemicals that increase paper strength and whiteness—are added to the mix.
  3. Finally, a fresh, physical sheet is re-formed using high pressure.
Using PaperLab, each piece of office paper is customizable by size, thickness and type and can be even created with additional colors, fragrance and flame resistance.

The Benefits

In 2013, 23.5 million tons of paper was recycled. That’s nearly 27 percent of the 87.2 million tons of materials that was saved from trash yards. (To help, GK produces industrial recycling equipment and recycling machines.) While PaperLab would certainly aid in paper recycling, it is difficult to estimate how much paper the machine will recover in commercial settings. Variables include the ratio of office workers per machine, frequency of use and faculty training.

However, the green benefits of PaperLab go beyond each sheet: This single office supply will help to close-the-loop on paper consumption.
  • PaperLab will isolate recycling to the office space; eliminating the transportation footprint that includes collectors’ locations, recycling facilities, and paper retailers.
  • PaperLab will save water. Usually, a single A4 sheet of paper requires a cup of water to produce.
  • Furthermore, offices will be able to dispose of confidential documents sans shredder and without sending documents to a disposal contractor.
Still in the prototype stage, the MSRP for the PaperLab has not been released, but Epson plans to launch the machine into commercial production at businesses and government offices in Japan this year with other locations to follow. PaperLab will certainly help to recover even more paper waste—a huge plus in our book—at the touch of a button.

If you are interested in learning more about recycling practices and how General Kinematics is leading the charge towards a better tomorrow, contact us today.
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  • Amy Donahue

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