And the point is .........
...... what ?
A team of scientists from the University of Cambridge has published plans for a laser "unprinter", which vaporizes toner used in printing to leave a clean sheet of paper. The idea of reusing printed paper has been around for a while, and it's not too difficult provided you use expensive coated paper. Toshiba has recently been …
One must include all energy costs and all related pollution in order to correctly decide whether A is better (cheaper, more environment-friendly) than B.
How much power does it take to "burn clean" a sheet of paper?
How much pollution does vaporizing a sheet's worth of toner create? How toxic is the vaporized toner?
And, why are we still grinding up trees and bleaching the pulp to make paper, when other plants provide more pulp per energy unit input?
Why can I no longer buy lower-cost papers, such as "flimsy" and "pulpwood", which were available during up through the 1970s?
(But, that's a separate topic...)
You're right about the real costs, but that's people for you. Reusing is no bad as a rule of thumb.
You can still buy 'flimsy'. Look for Bank Paper at c. 40 - 50 gsm (NOT Bank Note Paper!) E.g. http://www.ryman.co.uk/0203210468/Ryman-Bank-Typing-Paper-A4-45gsm-100-Sheets/Product.
You'll find pulpwood, and plenty of others, in art or craft suppliers. E.g. https://www.artistpapers.co.uk/Fine-Art-Papers/Newsprint-Paper/Strathmore-300-Series-Newsprint-Paper http://www.artstore.co.uk/bienfang-35g-detail-paper-roll-12inch-white-c-290-p-1 It starts getting dodgy for writing at about 25gsm!
Thanks for the sources, but ... trying to economize and be eco-friendly by using a "lower" grade of paper results in a SIGNIFICANTLY higher end-user cost, even though the "lower" grades of paper cost LESS to produce!
(1 ream == 500 sheets)
18.95 GBP/ream 3.92 x cost for 1 ream 20# copy paper
S307-809 Pad 9"x12" 50 Rough, Tape (top), White
34.00 GPB/ream 7.02 x cost for 1 ream 20# copy paper
HP Copy A4 Paper - 80gsm - Box of 5 Reams (Pack of 5)
Simple supply and demand economics.
Back in the day of typewriters and handwriting, this sort of stuff could be used for less important work.
These days just about everything is printed on computer and any printer with a feeder system tends to have a cow at the sight of underweight or rough paper. Thus it's not in demand, is a specialist order and costs more.
Our DE offices have moved internally to only using unbleached, recycled paper to wave their "greenness" credentials. That goes through OK. No idea whether it's cheaper, but it is worse than bloody useless when printing something on a B&W laser that has colour in the original. It's also worse than worse than bloody useless in a colour printer.......
Is there any legitimate reason these days to print anything out that isn't meant for archival or storage? Even businesses are catching up to the concept of paperless, though usually that's more to do with limiting liability (very difficult to subpoena old emails that were never printed and have a 36 month deletion policy when you called all your clients muppets and described the toxic products you were selling them) and making sure there are no traces of poorly thought-out business plans or processes (under the disguise of ISO 9001 compliance).
This laser could make things less lucrative for companies like Iron Mountain. Along with their archiving business, they seem to throw in on-site shred bins that really just provide them with tons of paper they can pulp and sell to the highest bidder for recycling. Clearly this must be profitable, as their clients seem to be encouraged to tell their employees that even personal records and other destructibles can be brought from home to ensure identity security.
Check how much those bins and proper onsite (read in a truck outside your company) destruction service costs. It might be profitable for the shredding companies to sell the shredded paper, but I looked into the secure bins and they aren't free.
As far as using a deletion policy to protect an organization? It only increases risk. Risk that you don't have an original copy of the email or file, stored in a documented manner that will make the judge satisfied that sufficient care was taken to avoid tampering. And that your organization is at least trying half-heartedly to achieve regulatory compliance. Otherwise when the plaintiff brings their complaint before the court and presents the evidence (which could be fraudulent,) the burden of evidence shifts to the defense.
At that point, the judge has a number of options available to him/her if your company doesn't settle outright. Those options include ordering forensic examination of hard drives, electronic discovery for prohibited things like PSTs, disclosure of backup tapes, etc.. Deleting a primary copy only increases the chances that it exists somewhere outside your control.
"Your honor, laboratory tests proves the paper these financial reports were printed on is at least 15 years old. They are genuine and there was no conspiracy to defraud. It is all here in black and white!"
"What about the toner? Has anybody dated the toner?"
"Is that possible?"
"The paper could be recycled!"
"The toner could be recycled!"
"This plot might be recycled!"
"It's Hollywood, it was!"
The problem with a patent, now, is that any old mucker can sell a 532nm laser pulsing at 4ns at a target detected with a vision sensor. They've published so the whole thing is in the public domain. Stuff some edge/residue detection algorithms in there and you've got pretty much the complete package - what's left to package?
Perhaps they've invented something cunning to deal with the fact that most discarded paper is rumpled into a ball...
I would guess it would leave a negative oxidization image at a minimum (i.e. yellowing around comparably whiter letters where the ink was.) It could also just bleach the ink and leave an "invisible" residue that could be seen under a certain spectrum of light. Either could be enhanced.
Interesting points, indeed. The old "bleached document" trick taken to another level. I suspect the way the laser works will leave traces (since they DO mention the fact that it CAN be overused). So it's probably not going to be practical for the "will switcheroo" but in terms of common document confidentiality it could save some use of the shredder service. Blank the "just secret" documents and reuse them so that casual inspection can't determine what it was. After a few runs, THEN send them to the shredder.
Why? The worst you could do is destroy money, and you can do that without a custom laser. I suppose theoretically a rich person could invalidate some real banknotes in a way that they would pass casual inspections but not be accepted by a bank, maybe to 'poison' the money supply of a person or business. But then I think we're straying into CSI plot territory again...
Not by this technique presumably, but US one-dollar bills can be (and have been) bleached and overprinted with higher denominations. The results don't stand up to examination by eye, but they're good enough to deceive some electronic bill validators that rely on the optical characteristics of the paper to establish genuine-ness and only read the denomination from the print.
Most Treasury-approved bill acceptors have a few more smarts in them. They'll use the basic optical test only to check for singles. For fives and up, they'll start looking for harder-to-casually-fake things like the fluorescent security strips which are in different locations for each bill (and singles don't have any). The acceptors used in points of sale (or other first-line areas where currency is handled before being routed to banks) are made to higher standards, have more detectors to check for things like bleaching, and can generally sniff out any fake short of a supernote.
"They have found some papers hardier than others, and are continuing experiments while considering whether to file patents or commercialize the technology"
Wow, how nice to see people giving consideration as to wheter a patent is worthwhile or not rather than just filing for the patent automatically as well as patenting everything else that is vaguely associated with it.
Why don't they just develop a white toner? Then you could overprint the entire page in black, then print again in white, then print the whole page in white, then print in black, etc., etc. Eventually the sheet would be more like a cube with all that toner, of course, and become too heavy to lift. Is this a silly idea? Any sillier than theirs?
Considering whether to file patents or commercialize the technology? WHAT!?
PATENT THAT NOW!
Why? Richo, Minolta, Xerox, HP, Canon...should I go on? ANY printer and copier manufacture would want as the next feature in their next gen product just to say they have a new feature!
I have a vision of the human race making things for millennia, then slowly but surely doing an about turn and unmaking it all. Not destroying it, just unmaking it. The apocalypse will not be some plague or nuclear disaster; just some loony getting a bit trigger happy with an unprinter and its various descendent un-* devices.