A process to "unphotocopy" toner ink from paper has been developed by engineers at the University of Cambridge.
The process involves using short laser pulses to erase words and images by heating the printed material to the point that they vaporise.
The researchers say it works with commonly used papers and toner inks and is more eco-friendly than recycling.
However, they add that more research is needed to bring a product to market.
"When you fire the laser, it hits the thin toner layer and heats it up until the point that you vaporise it," the team's lead author, David Leal-Ayala told the BBC.
"Toner is mostly composed of carbon and a plastic polymer. It's the polymer in the toner that is vaporised."
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