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 user 2007-09-18 at 2:14:00 pm Views: 52
  • #18773

    How Green is Your Toner?
    September , 2007 All this year major printing equipment manufacturers have been quietly telling anyone who’d listen about how “green” they are. Some of this is hype, some real, but it’s good to see these companies paying attention. We all know that as a manufacturing process, printing (never mind making the necessary paper) can be less than environmentally friendly, and in a time when the environment is (finally) getting some of the attention it deserves, equipment vendors are being vocal about what they are doing.

    Xerox, for example, cut the ribbon yesterday on a 5-story, 100,000 square-foot, $60 million facility in Webster, NY, dedicated solely to the manufacture of its EA (Emulsion Aggregation) toner. This internally developed product is “grown,” which allows precise control of the shape and size of toner particles, as compared to the traditional process of grinding composite polymers into randomly jagged shapes. (Picture pea stone versus gravel.)The new process uses 25-35% less energy per pound and less EA toner is required to create an image than with conventional toner. For example, a cartridge of conventional toner on a Xerox Nuvera printer, is good for about 13,000 images, while an EA toner cartridge will last for 23,000. That means less toner on a page, which further means less energy is used for printing.

    According to Richard Schmachtenberg, vice president of Consumables Development & Manufacturing Group, Xerox is also changing the manufacturing of conventional toners, yielding an estimated 15 to 25% reduction in energy per pound. “As a result, Xerox is well on the way to saving more than 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity by 2008 –enough power to light more than 24,000 U.S. households for a year.”Using less energy is one part of being green, but so are the greenhouse gas emissions levels of the manufacturing plant. The new facility is part of the company’s commitment to reduce its overall greenhouse emissions by 10% over the next five years. “There are 4000 control points on the facility’s computer control system that monitor product flow and energy use, allowing sections of the building or process to be powered down when not in use,” Schmachtenberg says.

    Xerox is hardly alone.
    Other big players are making their own moves to help our industry get cleaner and greener. Paper companies have been cleaning up their acts, sometimes with notable success. Océ’s 2006 Sustainablilty Report cites the progress the company has made in manufacturing, recycling and reduced emissions, especially in Europe where environmental issues are taken more seriously than here in the U.S.Reaching out to customers, Kodak just rolled out “Begin Your Passage to Sustainability,” a kit that provides printers with an overview of trends and best practices, as well as the business and operational implications of developing a sustainability program.

    Like the BP ads say, “It’s a start.”
    Every few days I see evidence that the green movement in print is gaining momentum. Whether it’s EA toner, greater manufacturing efficiencies, showing print providers how to build sustainable operations, smart energy practices or even just using more recycled papers, our industry has to be greener. I have a sense that it’s time for our industry to unite in new ways to ensure the sustainability of all our businesses. Whether or not you agree with the concerns about climate change, our businesses are going to have to react in a variety of ways.