Printing giant Xerox has today launched a new line of "green" paper for digital printing, which uses half as many trees as traditional paper and also requires less water and fewer chemicals throughout the production process. However, critics have argued the paper is of a lower quality than traditional alternatives.
The new High Yield Business Paper is made by mechnically grinding wood into pulp, as opposed to using the chemical pulping processes traditionally used for paper for digital printing. As a result the process converts 90 percent of the wood into usable pulp, double the 45 percent yield from traditional processes.
Previously mechanical processes have been untenable for creating paper for digital printing because of operational problems, such as curling and dust, which makes the paper incompatible with digital print devices. But now Xerox claims it has overscome these problems.
Furthermore, the paper is being manufactured at a plant that uses hydroelectric power, which results in a 75 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions throughout the production process.
Xerox said the paper is also 10 percent lighter than alternatives, reducing shipping and distribution costs for firms that use the new paper. The company predicts this lighter weight will make the new product ideal for direct mail distributors, estimating that a printer who used a carton of the new paper to print and mail 1,000 5-sheet sets of a document would save $80 in mailing costs.
Merilyn Dunn, director at InfoTrends Communication Supplies Consulting Service welcomed the development, claiming it "opens up new application opportunities and cost savings to print providers using digital equipment".
Xerox predicts that the paper will be primarily used by print shops to "preprint offset shells for transactional documents like invoices, statements, and direct mail pieces, then use a digital press to add highlight color or personalised information, such as names and regional details, to draw attention to documents".
It also claimed that the softer shade of the paper – it boasts a brightness of 81 on a scale of 100 – makes reading easier, ensuring the paper is "ideal for short-run books, educational printing such as supplemental course books and worksheets, and temporary business documents, which do not need a long archival life".
However, a report in the Wall Street Journal said that the reason for the focus on documents that do not require a archiving is because the paper "yellows badly as it ages". It also claimed that the paper is not as white or as smooth as traditional alternatives, meaning customers would have to be willing to buy a "lower-quality" product in order to bolster their environmental concerns.
There are also concerns over Xerox's ability to scale up the new production process. The company said that the new paper is available to order in North America from today, but Robert Corbishley, European public relations manager for production systems at Xerox, said that "there are no plans to launch this product in Europe at the moment".
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