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Soy far, Soy Good! Soy is “Greening” the Toner Cartridge Industry

In the remanufacturing industry, toner cartridges are already recyclable, but what about toner itself? Toner, the powdery substance used in laser printers is a petroleum based product. However, research into bio-derived toner offers a sustainable option to the toner industry’s reliance on non renewable, oil based products. Poised to hit markets within the year, soy-based toner offers an environmentally friendly alternative to its petroleum-based predecessor. In his article on bio-derived toners, author Michael Carlotta notes America’s dependency on an unsustainable resource: oil. As the cost of oil rises, consumers are looking for viable substitutes. He claims that “Bio-derived toner has the potential to quickly become the toner of choice for “green” conscience consumers, industries, businesses and governments” (Carlotta, 2006). The New Soy-sation Battelle, an independent research firm, developed the bio-derived toner and is working with companies to create a marketable product (United, 2004). Much of its soy-based research is funded by the Ohio Soy Bean Council, with Ohio being home to approximately 30000 soy bean farmers (Carlotta, 2006). Initial research centered on producing black toner, but representatives from Batelle state their soy-based toner has the potential to translate successfully into color toner as well (Carlotta, 2006). Carlotta also reveals in his article that many OEM printer manufacturing firms are researching soy-derived toner as well. He states that unlike Battelle, these companies do not intend to market the environmentally friendly soy-based products, instead OEM manufacturers “focus […] along the lines of preventing market share loss rather than changing the way their business is run” (Carlotta, 2006). This could mean that when soy-based products hit the market, OEM manufacturers may try to compete with their own soy-derived toner. However, these OEM manufacturers are narrow in their scope because although they research and develop bio-derived toner, these companies have not initiated or marketed campaigns for use of this renewable toner (Carlotta, 2006). Carlotta continues to state that it is the remanufacturing industry, with its efforts to reduce waste and recycle toner cartridges, that will most likely help market and produce a competitive and bio-based toner (Carlotta, 2006). Soy Many Benefits Although soy-derived toner is currently in the final stages of development, soy-based ink for inkjet cartridges is not a new invention. It has come into common use over the past 15 years, with 90% of newspapers switching to soy or vegetable-based inks (United, 2004). Soy based ink increases the recyclability of paper, allowing for paper to be broken down into clean paper pulp more easily (United, 2004). Research into soy-based toner has also established that the process of de-inking paper so that it can be recycled is much easier when the ink is soy-based instead of petroleum-based. Lab results completed by Battelle reveal that paper pulp from de-inking soy-based paper “contained extremely low levels of ink residue, resulting in cleaner and brighter pulp” (United, 2004). Less ink residue means easier and more effective recycling of paper. Studies have shown that if all oil-based inks were replaced by soy based ink, “457 million pounds of soybean oil, equivalent to 41.5 million bushels. This represents only about 1.8% of U.S. Soybean production” (Weisenbach, 2000). Thus, soy bean producers could easily supply the demand for soy-based inks and even toner, if soy-derived toner became the market standard. Unlike oil, soy is a renewable product, and soy-based toner offers a cleaner and sustainable source of toner. Soy and even corn-based toner not only make use of a renewable resource, the toner itself can be produced using pre-existing technology and equipment (Carlotta 2006). Therefore, when soy-based toner hits the markets, producers and remanufacturers do not have to reinvest in expensive machinery and equipment. Sources: Carlotta, Michael. “Bio-Derived Toner — Staged to Change the World?” United Soybean Board. “Soy-Based Ink Makes Impression with New Soy-Based Toner”. Weisenbach, Dan. “Switching to Soy Ink? What Are You Waiting For?"Soy far, Soy Good! Soy is “Greening” the Toner Cartridge Industry In the remanufacturing industry, toner cartridges are already recyclable, but what about toner itself? Toner, the powdery substance used in laser printers is a petroleum based product. However, research into bio-derived toner offers a sustainable option to the toner industry’s reliance on non renewable, oil based products. Poised to hit markets within the year, soy-based toner offers an environmentally friendly alternative to its petroleum-based predecessor. In his article on bio-derived toners, author Michael Carlotta notes America’s dependency on an unsustainable resource: oil. As the cost of oil rises, consumers are looking for viable substitutes. He claims that “Bio-derived toner has the potential to quickly become the toner of choice for “green” conscience consumers, industries, businesses and governments” (Carlotta, 2006). The New Soy-sation Battelle, an independent research firm, developed the bio-derived toner and is working with companies to create a marketable product (United, 2004). Much of its soy-based research is funded by the Ohio Soy Bean Council, with Ohio being home to approximately 30000 soy bean farmers (Carlotta, 2006). Initial research centered on producing black toner, but representatives from Batelle state their soy-based toner has the potential to translate successfully into color toner as well (Carlotta, 2006). Carlotta also reveals in his article that many OEM printer manufacturing firms are researching soy-derived toner as well. He states that unlike Battelle, these companies do not intend to market the environmentally friendly soy-based products, instead OEM manufacturers “focus […] along the lines of preventing market share loss rather than changing the way their business is run” (Carlotta, 2006). This could mean that when soy-based products hit the market, OEM manufacturers may try to compete with their own soy-derived toner. However, these OEM manufacturers are narrow in their scope because although they research and develop bio-derived toner, these companies have not initiated or marketed campaigns for use of this renewable toner (Carlotta, 2006). Carlotta continues to state that it is the remanufacturing industry, with its efforts to reduce waste and recycle toner cartridges, that will most likely help market and produce a competitive and bio-based toner (Carlotta, 2006). Soy Many Benefits Although soy-derived toner is currently in the final stages of development, soy-based ink for inkjet cartridges is not a new invention. It has come into common use over the past 15 years, with 90% of newspapers switching to soy or vegetable-based inks (United, 2004). Soy based ink increases the recyclability of paper, allowing for paper to be broken down into clean paper pulp more easily (United, 2004). Research into soy-based toner has also established that the process of de-inking paper so that it can be recycled is much easier when the ink is soy-based instead of petroleum-based. Lab results completed by Battelle reveal that paper pulp from de-inking soy-based paper “contained extremely low levels of ink residue, resulting in cleaner and brighter pulp” (United, 2004). Less ink residue means easier and more effective recycling of paper. Studies have shown that if all oil-based inks were replaced by soy based ink, “457 million pounds of soybean oil, equivalent to 41.5 million bushels. This represents only about 1.8% of U.S. Soybean production” (Weisenbach, 2000). Thus, soy bean producers could easily supply the demand for soy-based inks and even toner, if soy-derived toner became the market standard. Unlike oil, soy is a renewable product, and soy-based toner offers a cleaner and sustainable source of toner. Soy and even corn-based toner not only make use of a renewable resource, the toner itself can be produced using pre-existing technology and equipment (Carlotta 2006). Therefore, when soy-based toner hits the markets, producers and remanufacturers do not have to reinvest in expensive machinery and equipment.

Sources: Carlotta, Michael. “Bio-Derived Toner — Staged to Change the World?” United Soybean Board. “Soy-Based Ink Makes Impression with New Soy-Based Toner”. Weisenbach, Dan. “Switching to Soy Ink? What Are You Waiting For?"
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