Eco-Advantage Blog

July 30, 2007 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment

Xerox Redesigns Paper

[Originally posted here]

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Xerox has developed a new copy paper which, they say, uses half as many trees, fewer chemicals and energy to manufacture, and weighs 10% less (reduced shipping energy and cost). See Xerox press release. Apparently it uses a process closer to the one that creates newsprint, using more of the tree. On the down side, the paper isn’t quite as white and apparently yellows “badly” (says the Journal) over time.

Is this another example of a green product that doesn’t live up to its regular counterparts? The yellowing sounds iffy. But a savvy analyst quoted in the article says the paper will likely be used “for transactions such as invoices and phone bills where people don’t care about long-term archiving.”

Just think about how much paper is not needed for very long – most, I would wager, ends up in the trash the same day. Much like the rising awareness of the craziness of using potable water to flush toilets, businesses and consumers are starting to ask questions about when virgin, high-end materials are really needed. Xerox’s innovation should help companies match the product to the need.

I’ve long thought the mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle was missing a couple of levels – redesign and re-imagine (see drawing below from Green to Gold that lays this out).

Priorities%20pyramid.jpg

Xerox, it seems to me, has done its part by redesigning paper. The customers need to reduce (how about not printing that presentation to flip through in the meeting, or printing 2-sided?), reuse, and recycle. And Xerox, other document handling companies, and creative start-ups can work on re-imaging how we use information so we don’t need the paper at all. But for throw-away uses, which are a big part of the market, this innovation seems like a great incremental step. Bravo.

 

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