Soybean Toner : Substitute For Conventional Toner?

Soybean Toner Substitute For Conventional Toner

Soy toner powder has been around for quite some time now. But it is only recently that a large facility such as the Ohio State University initiated its campus-wide use. This is a big boost to the Ohio State Soy Toner Alliance lead by UniPrint. Ohio State currently has in use over 7,000 printers in its Columbus campus where printer software developer UniPrint serves as the printing facility for at least half of total campus units. Around 700 printer units maintained by UniPrint will initially run on soy toner, which cover an aggregate print volume of 800,000 pages per month. International science and technology enterprise Batelle has its reigns on the development of soy-based toner powder with funding coming from the Ohio Soybean Council. The use of the bio-based toners has the full backing of the Ohio BioPreferred Purchasing Program passed by the Ohio State legislature and signed into law by Governor Ted Strictland in February. The bio-products friendly legislation mandates state institutions, which of course includes state run Universities such as Ohio State, to patronize bio-based options.

The Soy-based toner powder manufactured by Mitsubishi is 35% bio-based since it contains a concentration of toner resin made from soy beans. The AgriTone brand replacement cartridges by imaging supplier,West Point Products, comes loaded with Mitsubishi’s bio-based toner powder. This development not only opened a new market for local soybean farmers but also introduced environmental benefits. The use of soy toner will prove to be convenient for recycling facilities since soybean oil is easier to remover than petroleum, which is a main ingredient of traditional printer toners. And because soy beans are renewable, this program will deliver tremendous benefits to the environment.

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The soy-based printer consumable is not a new invention. In fact, it has been commonly used for the last 15 years with at least 90% of newspapers ending up switching to it. Why? Because soy-based ink increases the recycling properties of post consumer paper. Reduced ink residue on the paper pulp streamlines the recycling process and minimizes related costs that would have a significant effect on the pricing of recycled paper. Moreover, laboratory tests reveal a cleaner, whiter and brighter paper pulp recycled from a de-inked soy-based paper.

Pertinent studies point out how the complete shift to soy-based inks from the traditional petroleum-based inks would necessitate around 210 million kilograms of soybean oil (equivalent to 41.5 million bushels). Soybean oil volume of that magnitude only represents about 1.8% of US soybean production (Weisenbach 2000) – a supply initiative that soybean producers can easily fill. Unlike petroleum, soybean oil is a renewable resource. Besides, soy-based toner offers consumers a cleaner and sustainable source of toner. Moreover, toner manufacturers will not have to implement the expensive realignment and fine-tuning of existing facilities because existing toner equipment technology will be sufficient to produce soy toner.

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Soy toner has come of age. And judging from consumer response and acceptance, will this eventually replace conventional toner?

Photo by winnond

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