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Publication numberUS20060000309 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/147,301
Publication dateJan 5, 2006
Filing dateJun 8, 2005
Priority dateJun 11, 2004
Publication number11147301, 147301, US 2006/0000309 A1, US 2006/000309 A1, US 20060000309 A1, US 20060000309A1, US 2006000309 A1, US 2006000309A1, US-A1-20060000309, US-A1-2006000309, US2006/0000309A1, US2006/000309A1, US20060000309 A1, US20060000309A1, US2006000309 A1, US2006000309A1
InventorsYoshihiro Morii, Hiroyuki Kishi, Satosu Souma, Hiroyuki Matsuura, Kazuma Torii
Original AssigneeYoshihiro Morii, Hiroyuki Kishi, Satosu Souma, Hiroyuki Matsuura, Kazuma Torii
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Supply recycling system and valuable-metal recovering system
US 20060000309 A1
Abstract
A supply recycling system for recycling supply goods used in an office-automation equipment includes a toner refilling process including removing waste toner from a toner bottle retrieved from a market, and filling the toner bottle with new toner; and a steelmaking-dust molding process including blending the waste toner removed at the toner refilling process with steelmaking dust, and molding the steelmaking dust blended with the waste toner.
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Claims(17)
1. A supply recycling system for recycling supply goods used in an office-automation equipment, the supply recycling system comprising:
a toner refilling process including
removing waste toner from a toner bottle retrieved from a market; and
filling the toner bottle with new toner; and
a steelmaking-dust molding process including
blending the waste toner removed at the toner refilling process with steelmaking dust; and
molding the steelmaking dust blended with the waste toner.
2. The supply recycling system according to claim 1, wherein the waste toner is at least one of magnetic toner and non-magnetic toner.
3. The supply recycling system according to claim 1, wherein
the steelmaking-dust blended with the waster toner is at least one of
a dust recovered from exhaust gas of a steel manufacturing process;
a scale recovered from a steel-annealing process or a steel-pickling process; and
an aluminum refuse formed from aluminum dross, aluminum ash, and aluminum slag generated at aluminum refining, and
the steelmaking-dust molding process further includes
placing the steelmaking dust molded into an electric furnace or a ladle refining furnace; and
recovering a metal contained in the steelmaking dust molded as a valuable metal.
4. The supply recycling system according to claim 3, wherein
the toner refilling process further includes determining a necessary amount of the waste toner to be supplied to the steelmaking-dust molding process based on information on an amount of waster toner demanded at the steelmaking-dust molding process, and
the steelmaking-dust molding process further includes
determining a necessary amount of molding based on information on an amount of steelmaking-dust-molded product demanded from a steel manufacturer; and
supplying the steelmaking-dust-molded product to the steel manufacturer.
5. The supply recycling system according to claim 4, wherein the toner refilling process further includes
setting a product code for the waste toner to be supplied to the steelmaking-dust molding process, and
setting, when sending the necessary amount of the waste toner to the steelmaking-dust molding process, a manufacturing code per shipped lot.
6. The supply recycling system according to claim 1, wherein
The toner refilling process further includes determining a necessary amount of the toner bottle based on information on an amount of toner demanded from an office-automation-equipment manufacturer or an office-automation-equipment distributor; and
supplying the toner bottle refilled to the office-automation-equipment manufacturer or the office-automation-equipment distributor.
7. The supply recycling system according to claim 6, wherein the toner refilling process further includes
setting a product code for the toner to be supplied to the office-automation-equipment manufacturer or the office-automation-equipment distributor; and
setting, when sending the necessary amount of the toner to the office-automation-equipment manufacturer or the office-automation-equipment distributor, a manufacturing code per shipped lot.
8. The supply recycling system according to claim 4, wherein the information is transferred via communication.
9. The supply recycling system according to claim 6, wherein the information is transferred via communication.
10. The supply recycling system according to claim 8, wherein the communication is carried out via an Internet communication using an information processing device.
11. The supply recycling system according to claim 9, wherein the communication is carried out via an Internet communication using an information processing device.
12. The supply recycling system according to claim 8, wherein each of the toner refilling process and the steelmaking-dust molding process includes
a data storing unit that stores the information transmitted and received; and
an output unit that outputs the information.
13. The supply recycling system according to claim 9, wherein each of the toner refilling process and the steelmaking-dust molding process includes
a data storing unit that stores the information transmitted and received; and
an output unit that outputs the information.
14. The supply recycling system according to claim 1, wherein the toner bottle retrieved from the market is either of a used toner bottle inside the office-automation equipment and a toner bottle retrieved as used supply goods.
15. The supply recycling system according to claim 1, wherein
the waste toner is color toner, and
the toner refilling process further includes separating respective colors of yellow, magenta, cyan, and black of the color toner.
16. A valuable-metal recovering system for recovering a valuable metal contained in a steelmaking-dust-molded product from the steelmaking-dust-molded product, wherein
the steelmaking-dust-molded product is obtained by a supply recycling system for recycling supply goods used in an office-automation equipment, and
the supply recycling system includes
a toner refilling process including removing waste toner from a toner bottle retrieved from a market, and filling the toner bottle with new toner; and
a steelmaking-dust molding process including blending the waste toner removed at the toner refilling process with steelmaking dust, and molding the steelmaking dust blended with the waste toner.
17. The valuable-metal recovering system according to claim 16, wherein the valuable metal is recovered by placing the steelmaking dust molded into an electric furnace or a ladle refining furnace.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present document incorporates by reference the entire contents of Japanese priority document, 2004-174787 filed in Japan on Jun. 11, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1) Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a technology for recycling a toner product of office-automation (OA) equipment such as an image forming apparatus.

2) Description of the Related Art

In contemporary society, the importance of environmental problems becomes an increased center of recognition. Therefore, consumers and investors strictly evaluate a company based on an environmental effort of the company. Accordingly, in addition to the ongoing revenue-generating activities, companies now have to promote activities for preserving the environment.

Accordingly, from a standpoint of effective use of resources and reduction of waste products, an establishment of recycling systems to recycle products, parts, and materials is an urgent task for the companies. This is because the companies that take the initiative in the area of recycling, at the same time reduces energy consumption and prevents discharging of harmful substances will show a better growth in the future.

Recycling processings can be roughly classified as follows.

(1) At-Home Reuse

A user, who uses a product, reuses a portion (such as a part) of the product. At-home reuse is carried out under the premise that it can be implemented easily by the user. Therefore, the at-home reuse has the greatest effect of reducing the burden on the environment, and has the lowest cost.

(2) Product Reuse

A predetermined recycling processing is performed on a used product to be recovered from the market (hereinafter “recovered equipment”), and the recovered equipment is reused as recycled equipment. With this processing, since the majority of portions configuring the product can be reused as is, the effect of reducing the burden on the environment is significant.

(3) Part Reuse

A part or a unit is removed from the recovered equipment, and is reused in a new product. This processing has a great effect of reducing the burden on the environment in that, for the part or the unit that is normally manufactured using a considerable amount of energy such as machining, which manufacturing process can be omitted.

(4) Material Recycling

The recovered equipment is disassembled and sorted per material, and some type of processing is performed on the materials. After that the materials are used as recycled materials. Types of this processing are a closed loop material recycling in which the material is reused as a material of products in the same field, and an open loop material recycling in which the material is reused as a material of products in another field.

(5) Return to Raw Material

The recovered equipment is disassembled and sorted, and materials are ultimately returned to raw materials and reused. With this processing, it is possible to totally eliminate waste material.

(6) Energy Recovery

A thermal energy is effectively utilized by burning plastic or the like.

In the recycling processings (1) to (6), from the standpoint of the effect of reducing the burden on the environment, generally, (1) At-Home Reuse is the most desirable, and desirability decreases in the order of (2), (3) to (6). Accordingly, the way of continuously recycling a product by the high-ranking means is a key point in the concrete promotion of recycling by the companies.

However, in actual practice, it is not possible to semi-permanently continue recycling processing by only the means ranking high in terms of desirability, for example, (1) At-Home Reuse, and after a given time period elapses, such recycling means must be abandoned. This is because the functions of the product become obsolete over the given time period, or rather, those functions become no longer useful in the market (or for the user), and therefore, there is no longer economical value in recycling by that means. In this case, recycling carried out by high-ranking means is taken over by lower-ranking means (for example, (1) At-Home Reuse is taken over by (2) Product Reuse or even lower-ranking means). In this way, there is a shift in the recycling means in that recycling is carried out again for a given time period by a lower rank, and when that means becomes obsolete, it is taken over by further lower rank means again.

Accordingly, in recycling, it does not suffice to implement only one of the means among the (1) to the (6), but all of these means must be implemented. Furthermore, in actual practice, means (1) to (6) must be implemented simultaneously and in parallel. This is because the stage (above (1) to (6)) of the recycling processing means to be used in the recycling differs according to the type of the product, and even in a single product, the stages of the respective recycling processing means are different according to the internal parts and units.

The above recycling processings are disclosed in, for example, Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2000-181958, and the basic summary of a recycling system is made clear as a flow. OA equipment, such as copiers, is one good example of recycling according to this basic summary and recycling processing method (see FIG. 9 and Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2000-181958).

However, in the actual recycling, the way of actualizing this basic outline is important. In particular, for OA equipment, not only the equipment main body but also supply goods (expendables) become the used product. Examples of the supply goods of OA equipment are toner and toner bottles that are containers for the toner. Currently, used OA equipment is recovered by the manufacturer or the like, and at that time, the supply goods contained within the products are also recovered simultaneously. Therefore, in OA equipment, the way of concretely establishing a recycling system for the supply goods, in the same way as for the equipment main bodies, is important.

In order for the companies to carry out continuous environment preserving activities, it is important to make the environment preserving activities themselves economical. It is preferable to implement the environment preserving activities while keeping their costs as low as possible, or in other words, environment preserving activities and revenue-generating activities are coaxial, and it is desirable that the environment preserving activities themselves are profitable activities. That is, instead of implementing the recycling processing means while losing value, it is desirable to implement the means while adding value (i.e., profitably).

Considering the recycling of supply goods of OA equipment, as a conventional proposal and with regard to toner, for example, there are a waste toner processing method and a device disclosed in Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2001-3063. This technique focuses on the fact that the toner is ultra-fine particles of a particle diameter of several micrometers to more than a dozen of micrometers, and waste toner is used at an iron manufacturing facility. Specifically, waste toner is mixed together with a sintering raw material, and the sintering raw material mixed with the waste toner is sintered in a sintering machine. Iron dust in the waste toner mixed together with the sintering raw material is used as a source of iron, and a portion of a resin in the waste toner is burned and used as a substitute for powdery coke, i.e., as a reducing agent. The type of recycling processing of this method corresponds to (5) Return to Raw Material among the above classifications.

However, for the proposal according to Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2001-3063, in actual practice, the recycling processing means is implemented while losing value (the side supplying the toner, for example, pays money to the processing side), and the object of profitable implementation cannot be achieved. This is because, in the proposal, the resin (binding resin) as a main component of the toner does not create sufficient technological added value. The resin part in the toner is used as a substitute for coke, but that is only one portion thereof, and the majority is gasified, and processed at an exhausting facility in the steel manufacturing process. Furthermore, the toner compounding ratio in the sintering process is kept to 0.5% or less because the toner resin component differs according to the type of toner, and this dispersion affects the reduction state of the sintered steel, and the like. Accordingly, the functional efficacy of toner as a raw material for sintering is low, and therefore, toner does not have economic added value.

In order to solve the above problems, the present inventors (Ricoh Company, Ltd. and Shinko-Frex Inc.) propose a binder for granulation molding of granules and a granulation molded product that are disclosed in Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2003-138320 and relate to recycling of toner. A conventional binder has various drawbacks, such as that it requires moisture for granulating, the shape retention property thereof is poor, and, when the granulation molded product is used, a large quantity of black smoke is emitted and deteriorates the working environment, and the granulation molded product overheats. This technique focuses on the point that the conventional binder lacks versatility, and uses toner as a binder of a deoxidizer for steel manufacturing. The deoxidizer is used as an additive for deoxidizing in pig iron manufacturing work in a blast furnace of a steel manufacturer, or in steel manufacturing work in an electric furnace, or the like. A representative granule that is effectively utilized as a main raw material of this deoxidizer is aluminum dust formed from aluminum dross, aluminum ash, or aluminum slag (molten slag), which is generated in a secondary refining process or a melting process carried out by an aluminum refiner. Usually, the deoxidizer is granulation molded to a size of a given extent, in consideration of the ease of handling thereof and the work environment. Therefore, it is conventionally proposed to compound, at the time of the granulation molding, a binder (a binding agent) in order to improve the granulation property, shape retention property, and crush strength.

The main component of the toner is a binding resin. Originally, in order to fix the toner to paper by heating and compressing the toner in an image forming apparatus such as a copier, good fixability, i.e., exhibiting of a good heat softening property and a lowering of the viscosity when heated, is required for the binding resin used in the toner. On the other hand, for the deoxidizer, at the time of granulation molding, the binder is used under compression, and inevitably generates heat due to the friction at this time. Namely, the binder is heated and compressed at the time of the granulation molding. In consideration of this granulation molding, originally, it is preferable to compound a resin having a softening point of 100° C. or less as the binder. Since the binder is heated at about 60° C. by the friction compression, it is more preferably a resin with a softening point of 60° C. or less. Examples of resins that can satisfy this condition are polyol resins, styrene-acrylic copolymers, polyester resins, and the like.

These resins are the same as the resins that are mainly used as the binding resins of current toners. Therefore, toners are suitable for use in applications for binders of deoxidizers, because they satisfy the common requirement of image forming apparatuses and deoxidizers, which is a good heat softening property when heated.

Differently from the conventional use of toners in the sintering processes (see Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2001-3063), the components contained in the used toner are all material-recycled as the raw material (binder) of the deoxidizer. Accordingly, since the functional efficiency of the toner is good (there is no wasted portion), the economic added value of the toner recycling can be increased, and the toner can be made into a valuable product. Accordingly, the proposal in Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2003-138320 is the current best means for recycling toner. However, the proposal in Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2003-138320 has problems yet unsolved.

A first problem is that, for the deoxidizer proposed in Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2003-138320, magnetic toners using Fe are not preferable. Toners that can be used as the binder are limited to non-magnetic toners that do not use Fe, because Fe itself does not have a deoxidizing function (aluminum dust has a deoxidizing function), and because it is not a resin component, therefore, does not function as a binder. Therefore, the functionality as a deoxidizer is poor, and wasteful portions are generated.

In actual practice, since deoxidizers are used in iron manufacturing, the deoxidizer may not be harmful to the magnetic material of the magnetic toner. However, steel manufacturers require “deoxidizing functions” in the deoxidizer. Therefore, a deoxidizer containing components that deteriorate this function has low value as a product.

A second problem is that Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2003-138320 proposes recycling of toner, but does not propose an effective recycling of toner bottles that are containers for the toner and that are supply goods of OA equipment. The toner bottle is structurally close to a single material. Therefore, it can be subjected to known means such as (4) Material Recycling, (5) Return to Raw Material, and (6) Energy Recovery among the recycling processings (1) to (6). However, it is desirable to, as much as possible, carry out high-ranking recycling processings.

As a method of granulating steelmaking dust, the present applicants and others propose a method that has high molding strength and a low powdering ratio in which metals and metal oxides contained in the steelmaking dust are reduced efficiently and can be recovered as valuable metals, by using an electrophotographic developer as a binder, kneading together steelmaking dust, aluminum ash, and the electrophotographic developer, and carrying out compression molding heating or a granulation process and heating after granulating. Furthermore, the present applicants and others propose, as a toner recycling system, a system of manufacturing flax for steel manufacturing by a process of gathering a given amount of used toner or substandard toner produced in a factory, and a process of carrying out granulation molding by using the gathered toner as a raw material, as well as aluminum ash or the like generated by aluminum refining.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to solve at least the above problems in the conventional technology.

A supply recycling system according to one aspect of the present invention, which is for recycling supply goods used in an office-automation equipment, includes a toner refilling process including removing waste toner from a toner bottle retrieved from a market, and filling the toner bottle with new toner; and a steelmaking-dust molding process including blending the waste toner removed at the toner refilling process with steelmaking dust, and molding the steelmaking dust blended with the waste toner.

A valuable-metal recovering system according to another aspect of the present invention is for recovering a valuable metal contained in a steelmaking-dust-molded product from the steelmaking-dust-molded product. The steelmaking-dust-molded product is obtained by a supply recycling system for recycling supply goods used in an office-automation equipment. The supply recycling system includes a toner refilling process including removing waste toner from a toner bottle retrieved from a market, and filling the toner bottle with new toner; and a steelmaking-dust molding process including blending the waste toner removed at the toner refilling process with steelmaking dust, and molding the steelmaking dust blended with the waste toner.

The other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention are specifically set forth in or will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a supply recycling system according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram for illustrating an addition of aluminum dust generated in an aluminum refining process at an aluminum manufacturer, as a raw material of a steelmaking-dust-molded product;

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram for illustrating a recycling process in a toner refilling process;

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram for illustrating a recycling process in the toner refilling process of color toners;

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram for illustrating an example of information transfer in respective processes, to smoothly implement the system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is an example of tables used in the information transfer shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram for illustrating an example of information transfer in order to smoothly implement a system for supplying recycled toner bottles;

FIG. 8 is an example of a steelmaking-dust-molded product; and

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram for illustrating various types of recycling processings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Exemplary embodiments of the present invention will be explained in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a supply recycling system according to an embodiment of the present invention. According to the present embodiment, a network 20 is used, which can be any of various types of networks including the Internet, an intranet, or the like. The PCs in FIG. 1 are terminal devices such as a personal computer used in respective processes and peripheral equipment thereof (e.g., a functional part such as a board having a communication function, or equipment such as a printer). Any known structure and any type thereof can be employed for the terminal device PC.

As shown in FIG. 1, a used toner bottle 15 is collected from the market in a toner refilling process 11. There are two types of forms in recovering the used toner bottle 15. A first form is that the toner bottle 15 is recovered per product main body as is in the state of being installed in a used OA equipment product such as a copier, and thereafter, is separated from the used product and collected. In this case, the remaining amount of toner in the toner bottle 15 is uncertain, and there is the possibility that a nearly-full toner bottle 15 can be contained therein. A second form is that the product main body itself is in a working state on the market, and the toner in the toner bottle 15 filled therein is used up, or a slight amount remains but is so small that the toner cannot be supplied to the product main body, and therefore, the toner bottle unit is replaced and recovered.

In the toner refilling process 11, waste toner 18 remaining in the used toner bottle 15 is completely removed. At this time, the removed waste toner is once collected in the toner refilling process 11. A given amount of the collected waste toner 18 is transported to a steelmaking-dust molding process 12. On the other hand, steelmaking dust 10 is transported from a steel manufacturer 13 to the steelmaking-dust molding process 12. Here, the steelmaking dust 10 is generic term for composite dust of metals and oxides that are generated and recovered together with high-temperature exhaust gas from an electric furnace or a converter or the like of the steel manufacturer 13, scale that is recovered from annealing and acid pickling processing processes of processes before and after rolling steel, or the like.

In the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, the waste toner 18 and the steelmaking dust 10 are mixed together and granulation molded, so as to prepare a steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 (see FIG. 8).

The steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 is then transported to the steel manufacturer 13. The enterprise carrying out the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 sells the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 as a product to the steel manufacturer 13. Then, at the steel manufacturer 13, metal is recovered from the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19, i.e., material recycling is carried out. In this material recycling, for example, the molded steelmaking dust is placed in an electric furnace or a ladle refining furnace, and the contained metal is thereby recovered as valuable metal. Since this technique is known, detailed description thereof is omitted. The main reason for molding the steelmaking dust 19 (for making it into the steelmaking-dust-molded product) is to improve the handleability thereof at the time when the steel manufacturer 13 carries out metal recovery.

In the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19, the waste toner 18 functions as a binder (binding agent). The toner is a hybrid material in which various organic materials and inorganic materials are mixed together, and also is a powder. Therefore, these features of the toner provide an effect as the binder of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19.

Specifically, when the raw materials are mixed together in the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, due to excellent flowability exhibited by the waste toner 18 due to external additives that are components of the toner, the dispersability of the steelmaking dust 10 and the like into the other raw materials is good. Colloidal silica, titanium oxide, alumina, fatty acid metal salts, and the like are used as the external additives.

At the time of the granulation molding, the raw materials such as the steelmaking dust 10 and the binder are frictionally compressed and therefore inevitably generate heat. On the other hand, the binding resin as a main component of the toner has an appropriate softening point, and the binding resin exhibits good fixability, i.e., a good heat melting property, and lowers the viscosity. Materials used as the binding resin include styrene resins, styrene-acrylic resins, polyester resins, epoxy resins, and the like.

The toner is in particulate form, and the surface area with respect to the total volume is large. Therefore, due to increase in the friction surfaces, the frictional compression efficiency at the time of granulation molding increases. Therefore, the thermal conductivity is good, and thus, the heating efficiency is further improved.

Furthermore, a reduction effect is obtained at the time of metal recovery at the steel manufacturer 13, from carbon black as the coloring component of the toner, the above binding resin, or the like. Therefore, added value can be imparted to the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19. Moreover, depending on the type of toner, a magnetic material such as magnetite or ferrite may be included. These magnetic materials can be used as a metal recovered portion of the steel manufacturer 13.

When the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 is granulation molded in the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, the granulation molded object can be obtained in any form such as grains, pellets or briquettes according to the application.

Examples of the molding method are a pelletizer or a low-pressure briquette machine (both not shown) that is a wet method, and a dry method which is more preferable (a high-pressure briquette machine or a rotary press machine, (both not shown)). The steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 shown in FIG. 8 is molded by using a rotary press machine (the size thereof is the size of a hardtack, and the main component thereof is iron or stainless steel). By heating the granulated product, at the time of mixing the raw materials together or after molding, to 50° C. to 200° C. by a heating furnace (not shown), a granulated mass having higher crush strength and a lower powdering ratio can be obtained.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram for illustrating an addition of aluminum dust generated in an aluminum refining process 21 at an aluminum manufacturer, as the raw material of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19. By mixing together the aluminum dust 22 at the time of molding the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19, the basicity of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 is adjusted, and therefore, the reduction efficiency at the time of metal recovery at the steel manufacturer 13 can be improved.

Recycling of the toner bottle is explained next. With reference to FIG. 1, after the used toner bottle 15 is collected from the market in the toner refilling process 11, in the toner refilling process 11, the used toner bottle 15 is recycled into a recycled toner bottle 17 containing new toner 16. Then, the recycled toner bottle 17 is supplied to an OA-equipment manufacturer or an OA-equipment distributor (hereinafter, “OA-equipment manufacturer or the like”) 14. The OA-equipment manufacturer or the like 14 provides, to the user of the OA equipment (the market), the recycled toner bottle 17 containing the toner 16.

At this time, there are two forms of usage of the recycled toner bottle 17. A first form in which the recycled toner bottle 17 is installed in an OA equipment product and is provided to the market as a product. A second form in which the recycled toner bottle 17 is provided to the market as a unit. The second form is employed for toner replacement in a product that is already working in the market.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram for illustrating a recycling process in a toner refilling process 11.

The waste toner 18 in the bottle is removed by air or the like, and the removed waste toner 18 is accumulated by using flexible container or the like (Step 1). It is confirmed whether there are scratches, deformation or the like in the bottle. Defective bottles can be used in plastic material recycling or energy recovery by using a recycling business or the like (Step 2). The new toner 16 supplied from a toner factory is filled in the bottle (Step 3). Finishing and processings such as replacing a label is performed (Step 4). The appearance, weight, absence/presence of toner leakage, and the like of the toner bottle are inspected (Step 5).

There are a total of four colors of toner, which are, in addition to black, yellow, magenta, and cyan. In view of the external color of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19, sometimes the toner bottles must be supplied to the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 while separated into the above four colors. FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram for illustrating a recycling process in the toner refilling process 11 of color toners in such a case. As shown in FIG. 4, in this process, a used toner color sorting step (step 0) is carried out as a step before step 1 that is the same as the process shown in FIG. 3. Then, from step 1 on, waste toner is removed per color by the same processes as those shown in FIG. 3. Namely, the waste toners are accumulated per color.

There is no need for the color of the new toner 16 contained in the recycled toner bottle 17 to be restricted to the color of the waste toner 18 at the time of being shipped-in as the used toner bottle 15. Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 4, after the bottle inspection at step 2, the good bottles can be distributed for refilling of the new toners 16 of the respective colors as needed.

In order to smoothly implement the system shown in FIG. 1, information transfer in the respective processes, such as the toner refilling process 11, is carried out as per the example shown in FIG. 5. FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram for illustrating an example of information transfer in respective processes, to smoothly implement the system shown in FIG. 1.

For example, in order for the steel manufacturer 13 to produce a desired amount of steel, a desired amount of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 is needed as the raw material, i.e., the desired amount must be purchased. Thus, the raw material required amount is transferred from the steel manufacturer 13 to the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 as steelmaking-dust-molded product demand amount information 5 a. For example, the amount of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19 that is desired to be purchased each month is transferred. Based on this information, the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 determines an amount of production of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19.

An example of the form of this information transfer is making the steelmaking-dust-molded product demand amount information 5 a as per a Table 6 a shown in FIG. 6. The Table 6 a is prepared using a personal computer or the like of the steel manufacturer 13, and is communicated via the network 20 such as the Internet. On the other hand, in the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, the received table is confirmed by using a personal computer or the like.

In order to produce the desired amount of the steelmaking-dust-molded product 19, the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 requires a desired amount of the waste toner 18 that is the binder raw material. However, here, the waste toner 18 has economic value because it has the above technical features. Therefore, the waste toner 18 is supplied from the toner refilling process 11 to the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 in the form of selling that does not lose value, i.e., adds value. Then, the required amount, i.e., the amount of the waste toner 18 desired to be purchased, is transferred as waste toner demand amount information 5 b from the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 to the toner refilling process 11.

As an example, the waste toner demand amount information 5 b is transferred in the form of a Table 6 b shown in FIG. 6. The Table 6 b is prepared in the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, and is communicated as information through the Internet or the like, and the contents of the Table 6 b are confirmed at the terminal device PC, such as a personal computer, in the toner refilling process 11. In the Table 6 b, it suffices to fill-in, each month for example, the amount of the waste toner 18 that is desired to be purchased. Furthermore, a product code 6 c is assigned for the waste toner 18. By assigning a lot number 6 d for each month or the like, managing can be made easier for both the steelmaking-dust molding process 12 and the toner refilling process 11.

In the toner refilling process 11 and the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, Tables 06 a and 06 b that are transferred through the network 20 such as the Internet, can be output on paper by a printer or the like, and verification and storage can be carried out by using the paper. Furthermore, as another means of paper output, in the toner refilling process 11 and the steelmaking-dust molding process 12, the Tables 06 a and 06 b, which are transferred through the network 20 or the like, can be output by using a fax machine (not shown) or the like that is connected to the network 20 or the like.

An example of information transfer for smoothly implementing the system that supplies the recycled toner bottles 17 is shown in FIG. 7. Since the OA-equipment manufacturer or the like 14 supplies a desired amount of the toner to the market as supply goods, in order to put the toner in the product at the time when the desired amount of the new product is produced, the desired amount of the recycled toner bottles 17 is needed. Thus, a raw material demand amount is transferred from the OA-equipment manufacturer or the like 14 to the toner refilling process 11 as toner demand amount information 7 a. For example, the demand amount for each month is transferred. Based on this information, the amount of recycled toner bottles 17 is determined in the toner refilling process 11.

An example of the form of information transfer includes a method of preparing a table (not shown) by using a personal computer or the like. This table is prepared by using a personal computer or the like of the OA-equipment manufacturer or the like 14, and information communication among the respective processes is carried out by using the network 20 such as the Internet. In the toner refilling process 11, the table received by a personal computer or the like is confirmed, and communication for each month for example is carried out by using this table.

In the toner refilling process 11, the toner demand amount information 7 a, which is transferred via the network 20 or the like, can be outputted on paper by a printer or the like, and verification and storage can be carried out by using the paper. Furthermore, a method of receiving by using a fax machine (not shown) or the like connected to the network 20 or the like, can be employed in the toner refilling process 11.

According to the present embodiment, due to the external additives of the toner improving the mixability of the steelmaking dust and the toner, and due to the binding resin improving the bonding of the steelmaking dust, the waste toner has a binder function. In addition, due to the magnetic material of the toner becoming the metal recovered portion of the steelmaking dust, the waste toner can be used as a raw material having valuable worth, regardless of whether the toner is magnetic or non-magnetic. At the same time, since the recovered toner bottles can also be reused, companies can carry out continuous recycling of supply goods (toner, and toner bottles that are containers of the toner), which is coaxial with environmental preservation and the pursuit of profits.

Since the production plan required at the subsequent process can be known at each of the processes, smooth recycling, in which on-demand product supply is possible, can be carried out.

Even if the respective processes, such as the toner refilling process, are remote from one another, information can be transferred quickly and correctly. Furthermore, the information can be stored, and can be referred to when needed.

The supply recycling system according to the present invention has an effects that toner recycling can be carried out economically for both magnetic toners and non-magnetic toners, and recycling can be carried out effectively also for used toner bottles, and continuous environment preserving activities of companies can be carried out.

Although the invention has been described with respect to a specific embodiment for a complete and clear disclosure, the appended claims are not to be thus limited but are to be construed as embodying all modifications and alternative constructions that may occur to one skilled in the art which fairly fall within the basic teaching herein set forth.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7450880May 23, 2006Nov 11, 2008Anew Green, IncWaste toner recycling
US7736827Aug 18, 2006Jun 15, 2010Ricoh Company, Limitedproducing a thermite reaction by mixing collected carrier iron oxide ( used in office imaging devices) and collected reducing metal powder (Mg, Ti, or Si) in the presence of a Pt group metal contained in a waste catalyst to form refining mixture, isolating the platinum group metal; pollution control
Classifications
U.S. Classification75/10.35
International ClassificationC21C7/00, C21B13/12, C21C5/56, G03G21/00, C22B1/244, C21C7/04, B09B3/00, C22B7/02, C22B1/245, C21C5/52
Cooperative ClassificationC21C7/0056, C22B1/245, C21C5/56, C22B7/02
European ClassificationC22B1/245, C22B7/02, C21C5/56, C21C7/00F
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 8, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: RICOH COMPANY, LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MORII, YOSHIHIRO;KISHI, HIROYUKI;SOUMA, SATOSU;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:016675/0636
Effective date: 20050531
Owner name: SHINKO FREX INC., JAPAN