Xerox Erasable Paper: Green Idea = Good Idea?

Xerox Erasable Paper: Green Idea = Good Idea?

Taryn Williford
Sep 29, 2008

We know, we know... isn't all paper erasable if you use a pencil? That's true, of course, but the innovation in Xerox's new erasable paper is that messages printed onto the paper will fade off of the sheet in 24 hours, allowing the paper to be re-used. Perfect for memos or temporary notices, but not so perfect in a few other situations...

Xerox's erasable paper is impregnated with chemicals that darken when exposed to a specific wavelength of light, allowing documents to be "printed" on without ever actually laying down ink or toner. The effect fades with time though, so the dark portions on printed pages disappear automatically within 16 to 24 hours of printing. The pages can also be exposed to heat to clear immediately.

The idea comes from the statistic that almost 40 percent of paper printed in an office is discarded within a day.

But even though their idea comes from a good place, we think this would lead to plenty of office mishaps. If an unknowing coworker leaves some info on your desk while you're out sick or on vacay, it means bye bye memo. If a mistaken intern accidentally prints your press releases on erasable paper, it means your messages will disappear before they make it to the post. If that paper makes it on top of a hot laptop, it means your message fades well before the 16-hour mark.

Temporary messages are best left to email, we think.

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