Use a laser and save a tree.

Use a laser and save a tree.

That's the message coming from researchers at Cambridge University today – they've come up with an innovative technique that can remove ink from scrap paper so that it can be used again and again. 

They say the trick could reduce carbon emissions and energy usage associated with recycling paper.

Dr Julian Allwood and his team used different lasers to see if they could remove ink from paper.

Working with The Bavarian Laser Centre, the researchers set up ten lasers of varying strengths and used them on standard Canon copy paper with HP laserjet black toner - used in offices and homes all over the world.

They found ink can be removed without causing any major damage to the paper – meaning it can be reused instead of being binned, shredded or sent for recycling.

Dr Allwood thinks given the advances in laser scanning, copiers and printers, it might not be too long before these lasers are a common sight.

"What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype," he said.

"Thanks to low-energy laser scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there."

And there's more. The research suggests a number of other real-world implications. Reducing the use of trees is a "real possibility", it was claimed. Reusing paper could save an additional 50-80 per cent in carbon emissions. "This could represent a significant contribution towards the cause of reducing climate change emissions from paper manufacturing," Dr Allwood said.

So could the technique be coming to an office near you soon? Keep your eyes peeled folks….


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