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How "Green" is E-Paper?



E-paper is a display technology that mimics the appearance of ordinary ink on paper - even its flexibility - and according to new research when an e-paper is used instead of a printed paper, the paper, the printing and the physical distribution of the printed paper is avoided. Especially in cyclic industrial processes that involves continuous printing and labeling, E-Paper is a clear, "green" solution to eliminate all forms of paper waste.

Of course, the e-paper device has substantially lower energy as compared to using mainstream LCD displays.


Image Source: (http://tw.eink.com/green.html)

Interestingly, the study by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm also showed that 30 minutes of reading an Internet newspaper has about the same environmental effect as reading a hard copy version.

Developed to overcome the limitations of computer screens, e-paper reflects light like ordinary paper instead of using a backlight to illuminate pixels and is capable of holding text and images indefinitely without drawing electricity. This in turn means energy savings far beyond that of reading online instead of in print. The recent study by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, “Screening environmental life cycle assessment of printed, Web-based, and tablet e-paper newspapers”, showed that reading on e-paper for 30 minutes produced the same load on the environment as reading a web-based publication for 10 minutes.

The greatest burden on the environment for the paper version is the production of the paper, and in electronic format, the power consumption benefits of e-paper over computer screens come to the fore. The research considered the resource use and environmental impact from the entire life cycle of the various alternatives in order to determine these outcomes. Other factors that affect the environmental load are how many people read a specific copy of a newspaper and the length of life for a computer, a screen, and e-paper. Whether the equipment is used by one or several people and whether it is used for purposes other than newspaper reading are also factors to be considered.

In the industrial sector, paper waste is excessive as the lifetime of paper labels can be as short as a couple of hours. Current, e-paper industrial labels made by Ubiik support 10,000 image updates/refreshes which is equivalent to 10,000 printed labels.

Sources:

1) http://www.csc.kth.se/sustain/publications/reportfiles/sus_2007_1_moberg_et_al_report.pdf

2) www.eink.com

3) http://www.gizmag.com/e-paper-benefits-environment/8441/

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