Will stone paper change the world?
Stone paper was invented in Asia and will inevitably replace traditional paper as we know it. It has been developed with significant investment in Asia as a safeguard from rapidly increasing paper consumption in highly populous countries in the region. Not only is it an environmentally responsible alternative for high populations, but it can be produced for a fraction of the cost of traditional paper. This is because calcium carbonate, the main component of stone paper, is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet. Stone paper will become the obvious choice for a circular, economical printing substrate for the world.
How is the printing performance of stone paper?
Stone paper is a unique material to print and requires practice. It does not behave like plastic or traditional paper. During production, it undergoes a coating and ionizing process that raises its surface energy so that it can be printed in traditional printing methods. This coating is especially designed for the offset printing process, and means that less ink must be used to achieve the same saturation. Four color printing is different than one color printing, which is a good first step for new printers.
What is stone paper made of?
Stone paper comes in two main types: RPD, the paper variant, is composed of 80% calcium carbonate and 20% high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The board variant, RBD, is composed of 60% calcium carbonate and 40% high-density polyethylene.
Is stone paper greenwashing?
No. Stone paper is a necessary update to tree-based paper. It has a very simple, highly recyclable construction made with two abundant resources that do not threaten life on Earth. In European graphic papers, for example, it would mean a much lower consumption of resources for the continent. We could switch the legacy paper industry to stone paper and help end deforestation, water scarcity, a large part of the global warming caused by the pulp and paper industry, free up energy for civilian use, and even reduce the world’s oil consumption.
But aren’t plastic and stone non-renewable?
This question comes from the idea that trees are renewable, and therefore endless. Trees require a number of non-renewable resources to grow, and exploit significantly more resources than what is necessary for stone paper. Water and soil, a mixture of various minerals which form over millions of years, are examples of these. Not only this, but trees are one of the most important carbon sinks to our planet, releasing all of their CO2 back into the atmosphere when they are harvested. Trees and water are precious resources for life on Earth, and far too precious to exploit in such large quantities for paper.
The truth of sustainability is hard to except, and that is that nothing is endless and our consumption has a permanent impact on the planet. That is why it is important to identify abundant resources, like limestone, that can be exploited without directly threatening our quality of life. HDPE, made from petroleum, is also a highly efficient material that could sustain us for centuries as a binding agent in stone paper. HDPE alone has a much smaller carbon footprint than paper by weight.
How is stone paper recycled?
Stone paper is currently recycled as a channel 2 plastic, HDPE. The calcium carbonate in stone paper is a useful additive to a plastic recycling stream, reducing the required raw materials for plastic products, increasing durability, and reducing necessary energy for further plastic production due to calcium carbonate’s low specific heat.
How should we label stone paper for recycling?
This is a sensitive question for users of stone paper, because of efforts to reduce single use plastic in the general public. Despite this, stone paper users should realize they are representing an outstanding winner of sustainability. Stone paper products should be clearly labeled with “Stone paper is recyclable as HDPE.” For German users, this means clearly labeling your products for the yellow sack.
Are there alternatives to HDPE?
Recycled HDPE may be an interesting development in the future, but currently it does not meet quality requirements for stone paper production. Stone paper is a new technology with a sensitive production process that requires high quality ingredients. Bioplastics are not interesting for practical and sustainability reasons: Bioplastics do not fulfill quality requirements for stone paper production, they are not recyclable, and most importantly, they require industrial agriculture to grow. This is an unnecessary step backwards in sustainability.
Is stone paper plastic paper?
Stone paper is overwhelmingly a stone product and it is not accurate to call it a plastic paper. Plastic is a binding agent that allows the stone powder to be stretched into sheets. Stone paper does not really represent paper or plastic, as it falls between the two. It can be printed like legacy paper, but it has the useful barrier qualities of a plastic film.
It’s actually part of an already well-established group of papers called synthetic papers, which are much easier to call plastic papers, as they are composed mainly of things like polyester. Stone paper is a standout of this group, consisting of such a large part of stone powder.