Bio-based toner resin offers eco-friendly alternative

Buckeye Farm News

A green solution for a black and white world

AIR now offers the world’s only bio-based toner resin, called BioRez, made using soybeans and other renewable resources.

Resin, as the main ingredient in all printer toners, comprises 50 to 90 percent of toner. The use of renewable resources is significant as toners currently being produced using BioRez have biomaterial content of at least 35 percent. In contrast, all other commercially available toners are petroleum-based products or have insignificant amounts of biomaterial content.

Bio-based toner is comparable in quality and cost, does not require any modifications to printers or toner cartridges and can be used in any laser-jet printer or copier. Consumers can look for toner cartridges marked BioBlack™ or BioRez to ensure they are purchasing environmentally friendly toner.

More than 400 million pounds of electrostatic dry toners based on petroleum-derived resins are consumed in the United States annually. At 25 percent market penetration, this technology could save 9.25 trillion BTUs per year and eliminate more than 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which equates to taking 100,000 cars off the road for a year.

AIR licensed this technology from Battelle, which received funding from the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) for the development of this technology. For more than a decade, using checkoff dollars, OSC has worked with Battelle to develop an environmentally friendly resin utilizing soybeans. This bio-based resin is an example of OSC’s ongoing efforts to discover new uses for soybeans and soybean byproducts.

“We are pleased to see this project come to fruition,” said Keith Kemp, OSC chairman. “OSC continues to be a strong innovator and leader in funding research to develop soy bio-based products and the toner project has been by far our biggest success.”

According to Battelle, the 2007 worldwide toner market was $17 billion. Using this figure, if the entire market were to utilize soy-based toner, 302.4 million pounds of soybean oil would be needed. This equates to 26.8 million bushels of soybeans and increased potential for the commodity crop.

“When our scientists started working with the Ohio Soybean Council on developing a bio-based toner made with soy, it was a logical extension of our bio-based capabilities,” Battelle President and CEO Jeff Wadsworth said. “We are pleased to license the technology to AIR, which is actively taking the bio-based toner to market. It’s quite gratifying to know that, in the near future, people everywhere will be able to use a product that was developed here.”

The technology utilized to produce bio-based resin made from soy has been nationally recognized with an R&D 100 award in 2003 and a Presidential Green Chemistry Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2008.

A leading manufacturer of aftermarket imaging supplies has realized the promise of soy-based toner.

West Point Products has announced the release of AgriTone premium replacement toner cartridges, a series of remanufactured laser toner cartridges containing toner that is 35 percent or more bio-based through the use of the BioRez technology. In 2008 alone, the company collected more than 900,000 cartridges through its Empty Core Collection Program and recycled more than 1 million pounds of raw materials from its manufacturing process.

Article contributed by the Ohio Soybean Council.

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