Soybeans find their way into OSU printers

Ohio State University kicked off a new “Soy Toner Alliance” to celebrate its use of soy-based toner in many of the university’s laser printers.

The effort has been spearheaded by the university’s printing facility, UniPrint, which maintains about half of the estimated 7,000 printers on the Columbus campus. UniPrint will be using soy-based toner in any printer it maintains for which cartridges are available, currently totaling about 700. Those printers print about 800,000 pages per month.

“It is not simply about using a new product,” said E. Gordon Gee, university President. “It’s about staking our claim that this university and its leadership role in this state is making sustainability a very important part of who we are.”

The event was held at the university’s first LEED-certified “green” building on campus, the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center. The 4-H Youth Development program is part of Ohio State University Extension, housed in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

UniPrint’s use of the new toner makes Ohio State University one of the largest, if not the largest, user of soy-based toner in the nation, said Debby Parks, director of UniPrint.

The benefits of soy-based toner are multiple:

  • ·Soybean oil, a renewable resource, is a key ingredient in the new toner and replaces petroleum, which is used in traditional toner.
  • ·Soy-based toner is easier to remove from paper during recycling than traditional toner, streamlining the recycling process.
  • ·Use of soy-based toner provides a new market for 26,000 Ohio farmers who grow soybeans on 4.1 million acres each year.

Soy-based toner falls right in line with the spirit of Ohio’s new BioPreferred Purchasing program, said the bill’s primary sponsor, State Sen. Karen Gillmor of Tiffin, who also spoke at the event. Senate Bill 131 passed with strong bipartisan support in the Ohio legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Ted Strickland in February. The program calls for state agencies, departments and state-supported colleges and universities to purchase bio-based alternatives as often as possible.

“The idea is to take the money that we’re already spending and use it to buy ‘biopreferred’ products,” Gillmor said.

The toner was originally developed by Battelle as part of a project funded by the Ohio Soybean Council. The new cartridges, called “AgriTone” by West Point Products, use toner produced by Mitsubishi that contains a soy-based resin manufactured by Georgia-based Advanced Image Resources. The toner is at least 35 percent bio-based.

Keith Kemp, chair of the Ohio Soybean Council, said the creation of soy-based toner goes beyond the environmental considerations. “It has opened a new market for soybeans and we’re proud that Ohio State is leading the way in its use.”

Printers in CFAES were the first to use soy-based toner when UniPrint piloted its use beginning June 1, said the college’s vice president and dean, Bobby D. Moser, who led the kickoff event.

“When people on campus hit the ‘print’ key to print something out, how many think that they’re using a petroleum-based product? They probably don’t. But things are changing, at least here on campus as we make use of soy-based toner — something that’s made from plain old soybeans. This is just one of the sustainability efforts within our college and our university.”

UniPrint’s Parks said she is pleased her facility has been able to adopt use of a product developed at neighboring Battelle and made possible by the Ohio Soybean Council.

“It’s always good to hear new ideas, and you have to keep your ear to the market and be willing to invest in new ideas,” Parks said. “UniPrint is committed to the environment, we’re committed to sustainability. This is the ‘best of the best.'”

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