- Researchers from Shandong University in China have developed "rewritable paper" made out of tungsten oxide which will aim to reduce paper waste, as reported by Nature World News.
- To "print" on the film, researchers exposed it to ultraviolet light for 30 seconds then used a stencil to make words or pictures. To then "erase" what was written, the film can sit in "ambient conditions for a day or two," according to a report from Science Daily.
- While the intentions behind this new development are environmentally-focused, it may hurt the paper recycling industry if it becomes a widely-used tool. At the recent Paper Recycling Conference Europe, paper recyclers discussed a paper supply shortage due to new technologies and warned that certain volumes of paper that the industry used to depend on will not rebound in the future, as reported by Recycling Today.
In September, Keefe Harrison of The Recycling Partnership explained to Waste Dive how an estimated 96% of people in the U.S. have access to paper recycling and while paper is one of the most widely recycled materials in the industry, the composition of the stream has changed greatly. "The whole industry changes because packaging changes, because print media changes, and we all have to be nimble and evolve," she said.
Developments such as rewriteable paper are part of this evolution, however the technology behind the paper does not seem developed enough for the industry to yet worry about its popularity among consumers. While consumers are open-minded toward more sustainable practices, they also are more likely to follow habitual practices when it comes to traditional pen-and-paper usage.
The Paper and Packaging Board has projected that global paper consumption may increase in coming years as materials such as corrugated cardboard continue to have value. However, the industry will also need to be prepared for disruptive technologies and have flexibility to adapt to such changes in order to ensure profitability.