Tree-free paper

Not to be confused with Wood-free paper.

Tree-free paper or tree-free newsprint describes an alternative to wood-pulp paper by its raw material composition. It is claimed to be more eco-friendly considering the product's entire life cycle.

Sources of fiber for tree-free paper include:[1]

Non-fibre sources include:

United States annual pulp paper goods consumption exceeds 110 million tonnes (110,000,000 long tons; 120,000,000 short tons) per year, consuming 1 billion trees annually, an area of approximately 12,400 square metres (133,000 sq ft); US demand for paper is increasing notwithstanding the advent of the "digital age".

Paper manufacturing is highly competitive, with historically tight margins and small operating profits. As a result, the raw materials used to make paper have to be very cost effective, using cheap, scalable renewable resources, coupled with relatively inexpensive ways to deliver large quantities to market. Until recently, commercial tree farming, has been shaped to account for these tight operating margins and supply cost limitations. Virtually all paper, however, requires massive cutting, replanting and re-cutting of wide swaths of forest. These limitations have made wood pulped farm grown supply stock the paper industry's overwhelming scalable raw material of choice.

The paper industry's answer to "tree free" paper has been focused on "recycled waste paper" as a tree free alternative even though the vast majority of "recycled waste paper" originally started its life cycle from tree grown pulp.

Fiber dense agricultural residues, have been known as a pulp substitute for years. Commercial low cost production technology coupled with limited resource abundancy plus low cost transportation to commercial business markets had created a barrier, virtually relegating true "tree free" paper from developing into anything more than small niche markets with even smaller niche market players. Furthermore, grasses and annual plants often have high silica contents. Silica is problematic as it consumes pulping chemicals and produces fly ash when burned.

However, in early 2013, it appears that at least one or more corporations have overcome these barriers. These several entities have apparently developed the residue rich resource allocations, scalable low cost high quality manufacturing technology coupled with reasonably cheap transportation to produce "Xerox" identical, high quality true tree free paper on a price competitive basis with all recycled paper in the US markets. A proprietary formulation of sugar cane waste bagasse and bamboo residue appears to be the materials of choice.

By January 2013, at least one of the "big 3" U.S. office supply chains had satisfied itself that each of the commercial quality, quantity and competitive pricing barriers has been overcome sufficiently to begin offering, on a consistent basis, true "tree free" commercial copy paper at competitive or better pricing to all recycled paper.

See also


  1. "Treefree 101". Retrieved 2008-10-15.
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