The Sustainability of Stone Paper in European Book Paper
In 2014, the world’s paper production reached 400 million tons for the first time. Most of that paper usage comes from the US and Europe, with 7 of the 10 highest consuming countries being in Europe. (Environmental Paper Network, 2018, Page 9) Considering that China only consumes 35% of the paper per capita compared to the US and consumes already half of the world’s production, there is great pressure to find a sustainable solution to traditional paper. (Page 9)
Stone paper is a newly developing type of paper manufactured using two main materials: calcium carbonate powder and high density polyethylene in differing ratios depending on the manufacture. The ratio to plastic is always significantly smaller than the calcium carbonate (in most cases 70-80% calcium carbonate to 20-30% HDPE). The composition of stone paper is remarkable when compared to traditional fibrous paper, as it does not require the felling of trees, uses little water, and uses none of the other additional and potentially harmful chemicals used in processing traditional paper. It has a number of practical differences in comparison to normal paper as well, including resistance to water, fire, and tearing among others.
Could stone paper prove to be a viable alternative to traditional paper? In this report, not only will this question be answered, but the commercial introduction of this paper will also be investigated, specifically in countries who have implemented or are planning to implement carbon taxes (a large part in the EU). The real world situation of this material, including its current supply chain, cost, manufacturing, and resource utilization will be investigated. A case will be made of European publishers and a vision will be created for what the future of this paper could look like if it really is as sustainable as one is led to believe.