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Ricoh pioneers use of plant-based plastics

  • 06 June, 2006 15:53

<p>At its global headquarters in Japan, Ricoh is pioneering the use of plant-based plastics. Continuing its environmental leadership within the office equipment industry, Ricoh has become the first manufacturer to use plant-based plastic as part of a multifunctional printer.</p>
<p>Plant-based plastics are derived from plant sources such as corn, sugar cane or potatoes and are considered a more sustainable product than their oil-based counterparts. These plastics are made from lactic acid that is obtained by fermenting the starch of plants.</p>
<p>Currently commercial plastics are derived from petroleum, which mostly consist of hydrocarbons. When this kind of plastic is incinerated after use, fossil carbon is released into the earth’s atmosphere and contributes to the build-up of greenhouse gases.</p>
<p>While plant-based plastics still release carbon dioxide upon incineration, there is no net increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because new plants absorb an equal amount of the gas as they grow.</p>
<p>With global reserves of petroleum expected to last only another 40 years, Ricoh plans to incorporate plant-based plastics in an increasing range of copier models and components.</p>
<p>In Japan, the company is currently trialling two black-and-white and one colour multifunctional printer with a plant content of more than 50 per cent. Despite an incremental increase to the material cost, Ricoh claims the ecological benefits make it a viable investment.</p>
<p>Incorporating plant based plastic components is a significant achievement as Ricoh has successfully overcome some of the structural limitations of the new material.</p>
<p>As Tadakatsu Harada of Ricoh’s Research and Development Group explains, “Just three years ago plastics made from plants were considered unsuitable for copiers due to inadequate heat resistance, poor impact resistance and limited formability. We’ve worked together with a materials manufacturer to develop a plastic that works. Our effort is the first step in the right direction. By working with these new, environmentally sound materials we believe Ricoh can serve as a catalyst for change within the industry.”</p>
<p>Ricoh Japan is now working to resolve some of the remaining technical issues so it may incorporate plant-based plastics across its printer range and distribute these more sustainable products to its global subsidiaries. Neville Cooper, Quality and Environment Manager for Ricoh Australia, says the program positions Ricoh at the cutting edge of environmental sustainability.</p>
<p>“We have a global corporate mission to protect the planet and this is another proactive step in achieving that goal. Although still a pilot program, we are confident Australian businesses will be using more ecologically sound Ricoh devices in the not so distant future.”</p>
<p>To find out more about Ricoh’s local environmental initiatives, contact the Ricoh Environmental Office on 1800 803 120.</p>
<p>MEDIA NOTE - for further information, visuals or interviews:
Louise Mezzina or Jody Hammond
Write Away Communication + Events
Phone: (02) 8904 1622
Email: louise@writeaway.com.au or jody@writeaway.com.au</p>
<p>About Ricoh
Ricoh Co. Ltd. is an international company established for nearly 70 years and is engaged in the manufacture and sale of electronic office equipment. Its products include multifunctional and dedicated printers, document and device management solutions, optical storage devices and digital cameras. It operates in five regions around the world – Japan, the Americas, Europe, China and Taiwan, and the Asia-Pacific region.</p>
<p>Ricoh Australia’s headquarter is in Sydney. The company also has offices in State capitals and operates an exclusive Ricoh Business Centre network in the major metropolitan and regional areas. This network is supplemented by more than 80 regional dealers to ensure convenient service and support access across the nation. Ricoh Australia is totally dedicated to the sales, service and recycling of Ricoh manufactured products.</p>
<p>Information about Ricoh's complete range of products and services can be accessed at www.ricoh.com.au</p>

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