Think about the last document you printed. What if you could unprint it? In other words, what if you could ‘erase’ the ink and reuse the paper? This might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
Introducing the Laser UNprinter, as described in the Wall Street Journal, TECHEurope  last month. Disclaimer: commercialization is not happening anytime soon.
Developed by a team of researchers from Cambridge University in the UK, this kind of innovative technology has the potential to be positive for the world, and certainly for higher education. Efforts to ‘go green’ have already become integrated into the operations of many universities.
For example, according to Princeton’s public printing statistics, 33,143 sheets of paper were printed on Saturday by users of OIT (Office of Information Technology) and library printers. They make a good case for printing less . Clark University  is also addressing the ‘increasing trend of paper consumption.’ These universities are not alone in their efforts.
Some universities aim to go completely paperless, however sometimes we can’t avoid using paper. It will be years before the laser unprinter is available to the masses, but in the meantime, just imagine a few implications for higher education.
We are all going digital, but as a society we are a long way off from digesting everything digitally. With the laser unprinter – we could just unprint the article or document and reuse the paper.
For promotional flyers:
Flyers scattered across campus could be collected, unprinted and reused.
For administrative meetings:
Meeting handouts – instead of recycling them, unprint and reuse.
What if you could send your book back to the publisher to be unprinted and reused?
As we all do our part, the idea that any document using ink could be ‘erased’ and printed on again and again and again reinforces our ability to continuously improve on the path to ‘going green.’
Soon we’ll be able to add another “R” to the mix: Reuse – Reduce – Recycle – Reprint.