In a bid to tackle the huge mountain of waste paper produced by offices in Japan, electronics giant Toshiba has developed so-called 'decolourable toner', which can be erased through heat treatment allowing companies to reuse paper.

The special ink is part of Toshiba's 'e-blue' range, which also includes an erasing machine, a photoconductor unit and decolourable inkpen.

The toner prints words and images in blue to distinguish them from ordinary carbon black-based toner. The chemical bonding in the dye breaks down under heat of the erasing machine, effectively reversing the reaction that occurs during printing.

In order to remove the toner from the paper, offices will need to shell out around £100 for a decolourable cartridge and an erasing machine, which is likely to cost £200-£300, although prices have not yet been set.

Toshiba's spokesman insisted the process is convenient, with users able to wipe up to 500 A4 sheets of paper at one time.

But not only will offices be expected to shell out for the necessary equipment and toner, they will also have to physically gather each sheet of used paper and insert it into the erasing machine, a task many office workers simply won't have the time or patience for.

The e-blue range is set to launch in Japan on 8 December. Its success will determine whether the decolouring system ever makes it to European shores.