The Tree-Free Alternative

May 1996
by Carolyn Moran

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I have been the editor and publisher of an ecology magazine called Talking Leaves for seven years. As an ecology magazine, we are concerned about the dwindling forest ecosystems worldwide, a substantial portion of which are felled for the pulp and paper industry. When I discovered I did not have to use wood pulp for paper, I decided to switch my magazine to a tree-free alternative.

The first non-wood paper that I tried was imported from China with a 50% hemp and 50% straw content. The paper from China did not live up to the printing industry standards of the western world and continually jammed the web presses. Since I did not want to go back to supporting the use of trees for pulp and paper, I embarked upon a world journey in search of a good quality tree-free paper. When I returned to the United States, I got in touch with the non-wood sector of the pulp and paper industry. They agreed to support my efforts to manufacture a tree-free paper in the US.

I began to discover all the intricacies involved in the production of paper-especially paper that uses alternative sources of fiber. Traditionally paper was made out of plant fibers. At one time practically all corrugated material was made from straw. Because the economics of pulp production have favored wood in the US, use of plant fibers had declined.

Modern technology for production of pulp from non-wood fibers was developed primarily in the US. It was based on extensive research and development…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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