Chlorine Free Paper Issues


Copier Service Technicians

We interviewed technicians who service copiers when problems arise. These included both companies that contract for service and maintenance, sending a technician to the workplace when necessary, and also manufacturers that bring the machines back to their own facilities for repair.

Following the Paper Trail, the Canadian Aurora Institute/Reach for Unbleached study, found that, "While at least 40% of respondents had heard no complaints about recycled/chlorine free papers in the office environment, of those who had heard critiques, fully 43.5% of complaints had come from office machine maintenance technicians or distributors."

LISTENING STUDY: What is your experience with the use of recycled papers in copiers and printers?

"Recycled paper represents a relatively small percentage (we estimate approximately 5%) of all paper used in Xerox equipment.
      Xerox's Media Technology group tracks inquiries/complaints from owners of Xerox equipment having difficulty with paper and other media. Complaints about Xerox papers are tracked separately from those for competitive (i.e. non-Xerox) papers.
      With respect to Xerox papers, we have not seen a disproportionately high level of customer dissatisfaction with recycled paper. Complaints about Xerox recycled paper account for less than 1% of the complaints received year-to-date for all Xerox papers. The proportion of complaints attributable to recycled paper is lower than the proportion of total paper use accounted for by recycled paper.
      By contrast, recycled paper does account for a somewhat disproportionately high percentage of complaints from customers running competitive papers in their equipment. Although we estimate recycled paper represents only 5% of total paper used, more than 10% of all complaints about competitive paper handled year-to-date are attributable to recycled paper." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox (Note: Xerox's responses in this section are based on the experiences of Xerox paper engineers and service technicians working with Xerox customers in the United States.)

"My experience is 100% postconsumer tends to jam. The chemicals used to hold it together make the paper slip in the system; chemicals transfer to rollers and increase the number of service calls but the paper does not damage the machine. 30-50% postconsumer works fine.
      USA Standards for paper (weight, paper content, brightness, hue, chemicals in paper production) are much higher than other countries. Papers from other countries that are cheaper may not have the same reliable quality." - Mike Campbell, Service Manager, Central Business Equipment, Albany, NY (Note: CBE services Minolta and Toshiba copiers.)

"Generally avoid it if we can. Some customers use it regardless." - Ikon Office Solutions, NY (Note: Ikon services Canon and Ricoh copiers.)

"I generally suggest not to use it, probably due to old experience. You'll find it's an industry thing. Some guy will complain he just spent a ton of money on the recycled. I tell my clients, 'That's not my problem; I'm just telling you what I know will work.'" - Ikon Office Solutions, VA (Note: Ikon services Canon and Ricoh copiers.)

"Very good experience, no major issues. It's part of our testing procedure.
      Along with the workgroup machines, internal data center machines are highest users of recycled paper. We test those machines to run all the 'regular' commodity papers.
      Internal recycled paper use is higher than at an external copy/print shop-print per payment is usually on glossy or other specialty paper." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT (Note: This facility builds and repairs Konica copiers. Not able to confer with company engineers on some points.)

LISTENING STUDY: If you think there is a problem with using recycled paper in copiers, can you explain why that problem exists? What characteristics of the recycled paper are problematic?

"The complaints that Xerox has received year-to-date for competitive (i.e. non-Xerox) recycled papers are linked to two problems. The most common issue is excessive contamination or dirt that negatively impacts image/print quality. A second issue is excessive paper curl that impacts runnability (i.e. causes paper jams).
      Xerox has long recognized these potential quality issues with recycled paper. To address them, we've established for Xerox recycled papers the same stringent performance and reliability specifications that apply to their virgin counterparts. These specifications establish acceptable ranges for paper dust, curl, paper static and poor cut quality to ensure optimum runnability. Although laboratory tests indicate a slightly higher degree of curl in Xerox recycled papers compared to virgin papers, both types of paper are well within the acceptable range for curl defined by Xerox specifications, and demonstrate equivalent runnability performance in customer equipment.
      The problems of excessive curl and contamination are quality issues related to the paper manufacturing process. Recycled papers, just like virgin papers, vary from high- to low-quality in terms of print quality and runnability. Producing a quality paper requires papermakers to establish strict performance specifications and to control the variability of the papermaking process to meet these specifications consistently -- regardless of the production run, or the paper machine or mill making the paper.
      Recycled paper - a mix of fibers from many different sources - is inherently more variable than a virgin sheet made from a more limited number of fiber types. This added variability in recycled paper makes it more challenging for a papermaker to control the paper's curl. An important factor is the "drainage" on the paper machine (how the wet papermaking solution forms the paper web). The ability to uniformly control drainage is important for making a consistently high-quality, low-curl paper - recycled OR virgin.
      A specific problem unique to recycled paper are the "stickies" (adhesive and plastics) which can build up on the paper-making machines (causing holes and inclusions in the paper, degrading its quality) and on copying/printing equipment (causing spots on the photoreceptor, which in turn causes poor print quality). The higher dirt level in recycled paper may also be objectionable to customers seeking premium image quality." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox

"Seems to be dustier, seems not to pick up out of the cassettes as well as other paper; seems to be a lot of variability. From my experience I don't know what type of recycled paper would run better or worse." - Ikon Office Solutions, NY

"Rag content is getting in the machines. Chemicals in recycled paper react differently to the electricity. There is higher dust content. I was told in '83 to stay away from it. I've passed on the info to people I've trained.
      Moisture content is important. Dry paper and the toner gets thrown around. My advice to clients is often, 'Buy a better paper and stay away from the recycled.'" - Ikon Office Solutions, VA

"I've heard when papers with higher than 50% postonsumer are used, something happens - when humidity is involved there are issues. I haven't heard of any customer problem with recycled content with our machines.
      When customers cut the paper themselves, they create jams. We don't print workgroup machine paper specs." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT

LISTENING STUDY: If you think there is not a problem using recycled paper in copiers, why do you think many people blame recycled paper for runnability problems?

"We believe that low-quality recycled papers, just like low-quality virgin papers, cause runnability problems in copying and printing equipment. Unfortunately, customers' experience with low-quality recycled papers may have created a misperception that all recycled papers are of low-quality and cause paper jams.
      As stated above, Xerox recycled papers are able to achieve the same performance and reliability levels of Xerox virgin papers. Overcoming misperceptions among the general public regarding the quality of recycled paper, however, is a long-term effort." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox

"People expect all recycled papers to run as well as the virgin. Paper is totally different from one brand to another. Some brands consistently work well. I've never had problems with Great White. Great White is what is recommended for our machines." - Mike Campbell, Service Manager, Central Business Equipment, Albany, NY

"I'm not sure about that. You'd have to separate that from one kind of copier to another - analog vs. digital. Duplexing is done differently now. With analog machines, the paper would copy one side and stack up before printing the opposite side, creating static and jamming problems with any paper. The digital copiers duplex one page at a time, greatly reducing the problem. I think that's an across the board issue." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT

LISTENING STUDY: Do your service technicians caution customers against the use of recycled paper in the machines they service? Does your company have a policy to caution customers against the use of recycled paper in copiers? If so, could you provide us with a copy of that policy?

"Xerox does not have a policy to discourage the use of recycled paper in our copying and printing equipment, nor do our service technicians discriminate against its use. Our service technicians' goal is to maximize the 'uptime' of Xerox equipment to satisfy our customers. To this end, service technicians promote the use of high-quality paper over low-quality paper (as opposed to promoting virgin paper over recycled paper).
      The same approach to solving problems with defective papers is followed regardless of whether the paper is virgin or recycled - the primary focus is making every effort to help customers use their paper of choice. If a customer reports a runnability problem with a competitive paper, a Xerox service technician recommends that the customer try another batch number or brand of paper. For example, if the problem paper contains recycled content, the service technician would recommend the customer try another brand of recycled paper (as opposed to recommending a switch to virgin paper).
      If a customer reports a print quality problem, a service technician evaluates a machine's set-up, the quality of the machine's imaging components, and the paper being used. In some cases handled year-to-date, this evaluation has shown that a low-quality competitive recycled paper is causing the image quality issue (high adhesive/plastic content in the paper builds up on the photoreceptor, producing spots on copies/prints). In these cases, the technician presents the results to the customer. It is the customer's decision to continue using the paper or not, recognizing the implications to print quality." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox

"We do not caution them against using it or have a policy against recycled. We inform them of the possibility of premature failure due to the use of high post-consumer content paper. Premature failure means a higher frequency of service calls due to the cleanliness of the inside of the machine caused by paper chemicals leaching to rollers as noted above." - Mike Campbell, Service Manager, Central Business Equipment, Albany, NY

"Not if there are no problems. There's no policy. If we have a customer who is using recycled paper and continuously calling in with problems related to jams/dusting/spots and the machine meets the correct mechanical and electrical specifications, we'll take a known virgin paper and if it runs fine then we'll identify the recycled as the culprit. There's no training process by the manufacturers to identify this type of problem." - Ikon Office Solutions, NY

"No policy. A technician in the field for 10 years - if he spots a problem, he'll put new, virgin paper in and if it works fine, he'll point to recycled paper. We don't use anything refurbished. Parts or otherwise." - Ikon Office Solutions, VA

"No, that may come in the pre-sales area, from a copier salesperson, but not during regular service from a service technician. We don't sell paper." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT

LISTENING STUDY: We've heard from several end users that they're afraid to use recycled paper because it would void their copier warranty. Do you know of any warranty language which prohibits or limits the use of recycled paper in office equipment? (We've asked copier manufacturers if this is the case, and all of them said they didn't have language specifically prohibiting the use of recycled paper in their copiers.)

"Xerox warranty language does not prohibit the use of recycled paper in copying or printing equipment. As mentioned above, if a customer reports a runnability problem with a competitive paper, a Xerox service technician recommends that the customer try another batch number or brand of paper. If a customer continues using a problem material, Xerox might consider subsequent service calls related to the problem material to be outside of the customer's service contract (and the service calls would be an additional charge to the customer)." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox

"No warranty is voided; they cover recycled paper. The machines are guaranteed to run recycled paper." - Mike Campbell, Service Manager, Central Business Equipment, Albany, NY

"Not sure; it's only a remote possibility from the manufacturers. Personally we are very lenient with that. It's darn near an impossibility to prove that what someone put through the machine was responsible for breaking an expensive part. I've never voided a warranty." - Ikon Office Solutions, NY

"No, it won't void warranties." - Ikon Office Solutions, VA

" I don't know of any . We do test it. Paper information is in every users guide." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT

LISTENING STUDY: Some users have reported experiencing runnability problems with recycled paper in their machines. Often, they link these difficulties to higher-speed equipment, higher post-consumer content paper, or older equipment. Do you have any experience or comments on whether any or all of those factors contribute to runnability problems?

"These are not issues with Xerox papers. As previously mentioned, Xerox recycled papers - regardless of their level of recycled content -- are qualified to the same performance and reliability standards and carry the same guarantee as comparable Xerox virgin papers." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox

"Yes, high-speed equipment does need to run a better grade of paper than a slower copier. I would recommend no higher than a 30% pcc and your brand of paper does matter." - Mike Campbell, Service Manager, Central Business Equipment, Albany, NY

"I've never isolated it in that fashion." - Ikon Office Solutions, NY

"At our higher speed (where the machine footprint can be larger), we've made the paper path as straight as possible. In machines running 50 ppm (pages per minute) and up, the paper only makes one turn, reducing reliability problems for all paper. This change has occurred in the past five years. Papers for color copying have more problems due to the high moisture content." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT

LISTENING STUDY: Is there a problem with dusting generated by higher post-consumer content papers (which can impair the operation of optical sensors)? Or is dusting caused by inadequate vacuuming of the sides of the paper after cutting it? Or is dusting caused by something else altogether?

"Because Xerox recycled papers must meet the same stringent dust and contamination specifications as Xerox virgin papers, Xerox recycled papers do not present a dusting problem." - Elizabeth Graves, EH&S Regulatory Affairs Manager, Xerox

"Dusting is not really the problem but the chemicals transferring to the rollers. There's a cleaning system in the machine to take care of dusting. If the service tech isn't keeping track that could be a problem. But I haven't had a problem with that." - Mike Campbell, Service Manager, Central Business Equipment, Albany, NY

"I don't know. It could be after the cutting. It just seems to have a higher dust content. Something used to hold the fibers together possibly--just dusting from the paper sliding over itself." - Ikon Office Solutions, NY

"Industry rumor-more with carbonless paper. That rumor has probably reduced recycled paper users. We haven't experienced that problem that I know of, especially in the last 5 years." - Kurt Swanke, Konica Business Technologies, Windsor, CT

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