Even with the efficiency of today's digital communications, the modern office still churns through its fair share of paper. The typical recycling process involves a lot of water and transporting of material to an off-site facility, but printer company Epson says it has a more efficient and manageable solution. Its newly-announced PaperLab machine breaks down workplace wastepaper and fashions it into fresh sheets on-site, while using only a tiny amount of water.
Epson's PaperLab probably won't slot in discreetly beside the office watercooler, measuring in at 2.6 x 1.2 x 1.8 m (8.5 x 4 x 6 ft). Tipping wastepaper into the machine and hitting the start button kicks off a recycling process that Epson claims can produce its first fresh sheet within about three minutes and from there it spits out around 14 A4 sheets per minute, or around 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour day.
Conventional recycling involves breaking down the paper using chemicals and considerable amounts of water, but Epson claims to have found a more environmentally friendly approach with what it calls Dry Fiber Technology, which breaks down wastepaper into thin fibers using mechanical pressure, without the use of water.
The company isn't giving much away in terms of how this is achieved, but says ink is removed as the paper is broken down, and binding agents are added to the fibers and pressure is used to form paper of different colors and fragrances. The machine then turns out sheets of A4 of A3 size, with the user able to define the density and thickness for everything from printer paper to business cards.
As a result of its Dry Fiber Technology, Epson says that the PaperLab won't require plumbing, which should make installation easier, though it will still require a small amount of water to create humidity inside the machine.
Additionally, because the machine breaks paper down into paper fibers, confidential documents can be destroyed onsite rather than the task being outsourced to contractors to shred securely.
Epson will be showcasing the PaperLab at Tokyo's Eco-Products exhibition running December 10 to 12. It then plans to enter commercial production in Japan in 2016, with availability in other regions to be determined thereafter.
You can check out the short promo video for the machine below.