Who

Anyone using standard, coated paper in conventional printers.

What

A new way to unprint paper uses intense pulsed light from a xenon lamp. (Image: Rajiv Malhotra/Rutgers University-New Brunswick)

Imagine if your printer had an “unprint” button that used pulses of light to remove toner, curbing environmental impacts compared with conventional paper recycling. Unlike laser-based methods, the new method can work with standard, coated paper used in home and office printers. It uses pulses of light from a xenon lamp to erase black, blue, red, and green toners without damaging the paper. The method makes it possible to unprint and then reprint on the same paper at least five times. Unprinting can be done with simple equipment and a wipe with a very small amount of benign alcohol. By eliminating the steps involved in conventional recycling, the unprinting method could reduce energy costs, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Where

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

Why

Conventional recycling of coated paper is a major contributor to climate change emissions, chemical pollution, and energy use, according to the researchers. Extending the life of paper while avoiding these recycling steps would yield significant environmental benefits.

When

The next steps are to further refine the method by testing additional toner colors on a wider range of paper types.

Contact Deborah Perez Fernandez, Senior Licensing Manager, Office of Research Commercialization, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 848-932-4467.

Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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