Biomass Technology Lessens the Environmental Impacts of Toner Use
Kuala Lumpur, March, 2010 – Ricoh Malaysia, a leader in the office solutions industry, has developed a technology to use biomass as raw materials for resin, the primary element of toner which will lessen the environmental impacts of toner use. The development of this technology is in line with the world community’s call for corporate citizens to take responsibility in protecting the earth and preserving the environment through business activities.
According to the Managing Director of Ricoh Malaysia, Lim Eng Weng, as the global environment is in critical condition, business communities have to take leadership role in conserving the environment. They need to reduce the environmental impact of their own business activities and also of consumers and society as a whole.
“The changing global environment is increasingly posing a threat to the human society. Natural resources are depleting at an increasing pace. With the planet in great danger, Ricoh is committed to becoming a business leader in both conserving the environment and achieving higher profit.
“Ricoh believes in taking responsibility for all the materials use in its products. To minimize the amount of resources extracted from mother earth, we recycle as much as possible and engage in finding alternatives to resources that are at risk of depletion. This will help customers to reduce wastage on resources, thus maximizing profits and also reduce the negative impact on the environment. With this in mind, we started developing biomass toner technology a few years ago,” Lim said.
Every year, more than 200,000 tonnes of toner are produced worldwide to meet the needs of the business communities. Resin makes up 80 percent of the total amount. Toner resin, which liquefies to transport pigments then hardens to fuse pigments to paper, is made from petroleum. When used paper is recycled, it goes through deinking process that separates the fused toner from paper. The separated toner is then burnt, thus releasing carbon dioxide (CO2), or buried in landfills.
Biomass material used as primary toner element
An effective way to reduce environmental impact is to use biomass toner which is based on organic resin made from plants other biochemical resources. The biomass toner requires less petroleum than conventional toner. Being carbon-neutral, it works to reduce the net amount of CO2 emitted from the combustion of used toner. Biomass resin does not increase CO2 even when it is incinerated. As such, biomass toner will suppress the depletion of petroleum and reduce CO2 emissions through carbon neutral processes.
Low-temperature fixing and heat resistance
Toner must meet a variety of characteristic requirements. To reduce the power consumption of a copier, the power required for thermal fixing must be reduced. This, in turn, requires the toner to be molten at a low temperature. However, toner with a low melting point has its own problems. For instance, toner tends to coagulate when stored under a high temperature. In this way, low-temperature fixing and heat resistance hinder each other. This dilemma can be solved depending on the characteristics of binder resin. Ricoh has thus developed a new plant-based resin for use as toner binders. It is already in use as part of the binder for our biomass-based “for E toner.”
About 80 percent of conventional toner is petroleum-based resin. However, the biomass content of the “for E toner” is 25 per cent of the entire mass including resin. While meeting the requirements of both low-temperature fixing and heat resistance, the “for E toner” has the same high performance as the petroleum-based toner. With the excellent chargeability and fluidity, the “for E toner” has even attained a higher image quality than conventional toner.
Lim continued to explain that it would be too late to begin the development of biomass toner after the threat of global warming was clear and petroleum depletion was imminent. Ricoh has made an early start on realizing full scale production of biomass toner to help preserve the environment.
“We have studied many ways to reduce the environmental impact of the toner and considered the use of biomass resin to be the best option at this point in time. If the use of biomass toner spreads around the world, it will significantly reduce our impact on the environment. We are thrilled to be at the forefront of the technology,” Lim added.
For more information on the printers in the industry that support the use of biomass toner and other Ricoh products, visit www.ricoh.com.my.