In honor of National Inventors’ Day February 11, we recognize our innovators’ ingenuity and ability to solve problems in creative ways. Meet Guerino Sacripante, who is creating sustainable inks for eco-responsible printing.

Sacripante is a polymer scientist and research fellow at Xerox Research Centre of Canada. He has dedicated his 30-year career to finding more efficient ways to print, and has earned more than 240 patents along the way.

“When I look back at what I’ve done in life, I want to be able to say I’ve done something positive for humanity. If I can actively help us move away from fossil fuels, that will be a tangible contribution that makes things better for everyone.” – Guerino Sacripante, polymer scientist and research fellow, Xerox Research Centre Canada

His research in paper recycling and de-inking—the process of removing ink from printed paper so the paper can be turned into high-quality pulp—led him to identify and patent a new type of binder resin. This binder resin makes it easier to remove toner, particularly by smaller pulping mills.

This also began his quest for sustainable toner polymers. A polymer is essentially a chain of similar molecules bonded together. For instance, plastics formed from petrochemicals. But since most petrochemicals are made from fossil fuels, they’re not sustainable. Sacripante’s challenge is to find solutions that are both sustainable and commercially viable.

He’s finding the solution in plants and trees—otherwise known as “biomass” to scientists. Yes, that’s right: The answer to sustainable, affordable ink is found in nature. Plants and trees contain the naturally occurring, renewable polymers called rosin and lignin. Some of Sacripante’s most significant patents relate to these two biomass-derived polymers.

Thanks to Sacripante and his colleagues’ work, Xerox was an early and successful adopter of sustainable inks, including cartridge-free Solid Ink sticks, and Emulsion Aggregation Toner. That’s just one piece of our ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility.

Several factors will determine mass adoption of sustainable inks, from oil barrel prices to energy consumption to legislation. And 3D printing presents the next frontier for developing safe, sustainable materials.

“We’re at the very early stages of developing bio-renewable compositions for 3D printing,” says Sacripante. “But I’m confident we’ll be able to create high-quality, lower-cost, ‘green’ printing materials that will help to make 3D printing more accessible to consumers as well as manufacturers.”

Learn more about Guerino Sacripante as an agent of change >

See Xerox’s sustainability initiatives in our Global Citizenship Report >

Read more from the National Inventors’ Day series:

Part I: Xerox Celebrates National Inventors’ Day >

Part II: Michelle Chretien: Making the Un-makeable >

Part IV: Ajay Raghavan: Making Batteries Work Better >

Part V: Gary Starkweather Invented the Laser Printer Over 40 Years Ago >