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Recycle Paper in Your Printer Room

Though self-sufficiency and "DIY" have been very trendy in recent years, there haven't been many analogs for the office thus far—that is, until Epson stepped up to the plate. The Epson PaperLab, for the ultimate in office self-sufficiency, is the first in-office paper recycler of its kind. Not only does it act as a highly secure paper shredder, but it turns around and uses the resultant confetti to produce new, bright white paper within just three minutes.

In keeping with its prowess with paper as well as inks, Epson offers enough customization options with the machine to satisfy a variety of needs that might come up around the office—you can tweak the thickness and density of the paper that comes out as well as its size, from A3 to business cards. Different binders for the paper fragments can also produce papers that are flame-resistant, scented, or different colors. The system is said to be able to produce around 14 A4 sheets of paper per minute, or 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour workday; depending on where you work, that could be enough to fulfill all your paper needs.

In an introductory video, Epson notes that paper recycling usually is an "extensive, external" process—and it is indeed one that generates pollution and in some situations has a questionable advantage over just letting some paper products biodegrade or be composted. 'Paper sludge,' noxious chemicals used to remove ink, and other unsavory byproducts would make anyone think differently about their virtuous habit.

What advantage might Epson PaperLab have over these conventional methods? Though details are vague, it appears that much less water is used than in normal paper processing: the machine is not connected to plumbing and only has a tank that needs to be periodically refilled. This requires a novel fiberization process, which according to one Epson patent could be a cyclone of air being used to remove the ink. Epson notes that the emissions associated with the paper's transport will obviously be sharply reduced, but doesn't make any definitive statements about carbon emission reduction.

The PaperLab will debut in Japan this year, but if it comes to western shores anytime soon, you might have to pitch in with your entire office building to buy one eight-foot-long machine; ars technica estimates its potential cost at more than $50,000. However, you can't put a price on the satisfaction of "closing the loop" on such an important resource as paper.

Epson PaperLab

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