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The new frontier of recycling? It’s reusing. Researchers present a material that can be printed on and erased 40 times before being thrown away.
We are well into the digital age, and yet the world still relies on paper and ink, creating tons of printed documents that mostly end up in landfills or recycling centers. To reduce this waste, scientists have now developed a low-cost and ecosustainable way to create a rewritable paper. A report on this material, which is made out of tungsten oxide and a common polymer used in the pharmaceutical and food industry, appeared in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
For several years now, the United States have been working on the reduction of paper waste by increasing recycling efforts. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the most recycled material is paper. This allows to save energy, water, landfill space, and greenhouse gas emissions. But it would be possible to avoid even more waste if consumers could reuse paper many times before trashing it. So far, however, such products under development were often made with toxic, expensive organic dyes.
U.S. researchers Ting Wang and Dairong Chen tried to develop a better solution: they created a film by mixing low-toxicity tungsten oxide with polyvinyl pyrrolidone. Testing showed the material can be printed (or written) on and erased 40 times before the quality starts to decline.
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