Recycling paper has turn out to be an everyday exercise of contemporary life–a good behavior that appears second nature to most of us by now. Even large enterprise has embraced it, judging from the cabinets and catalogs of the main workplace provide retailers. They’ve correctly realized that there’s cash in being “inexperienced.” Environmentally acutely aware shoppers can now select from a big selection of copying and printing papers with anyplace from 35% to 100% recycled content material.
However is that this sufficient? The pc age was presupposed to usher within the “paperless” society, however that is simply not our actuality. Submitting cupboards nonetheless bulge with paper and folks will proceed to print exhausting copies of e-mails and different paperwork for the aim of verification, backup and safety. The truth is, we’re consuming extra paper than ever earlier than, recycled or in any other case. And we’ll proceed to voraciously devour paper sooner or later: it’s estimated that world demand of pulp and paper will rise to 620 million tons by the yr 2010.
So can we do higher? Historical past, really, tells us that we will. The truth is, we North Individuals have taken the notion of paper from bushes without any consideration and barely suppose that there are different confirmed sources (and applied sciences) for making paper. We will take a step past recycling–as vital and as essential as that is–even past the progressive and moral insurance policies that shield previous development forests from exploitation. We will start to noticeably contemplate different methods of manufacturing paper and a kind of time-honored methods is paper from plant fiber, not wooden pulp. Various plant fibers are poised to be our subsequent different paper: ramie, jute, hemp, flax and kenaf.
I first noticed a greeting card produced from kenaf about 5 years in the past. I purchased the cardboard for the attractive graphics, however I later sought out this greeting card line for the intrinsic high quality and great thing about its paper. The load, color and really feel of the cardboard rivaled that of any high-end, non-recycled, shiny card inventory available on the market. And now 5 years later, this card has not yellowed or discolored in any means. It’s nonetheless as beautiful because the day I purchased it. It’s 100% tree-free paper. It was produced from kenaf.
Kenaf was information to me, however there’s nothing new about kenaf. Kenaf was lengthy used for pulp manufacturing in Bengal and got here to the eye of the West in all probability within the late nineteenth century when it was famous within the Dictionary of the Financial Vegetation of India as a powerful fiber, superior in energy to even the paper from which the Financial institution of England notes have been made. Usually talking, non-wood plant fibers have been used to make paper for hundreds of years. At present, kenaf, jute and different comparable fibers are cultivated in southeast Asia and the Far East. Many farmers in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Thailand rely on these fiber crops for his or her dwelling.
Kenaf is a short-day, high-yield plant that’s West African in origin, which suggests, in fact, that it requires heat and sunshine. It has particular sowing occasions and a protracted rising period–the kenaf seeds normally require a further 60-90 frost-free days to succeed in maturity in an effort to germinate. With its particular climatic necessities, its planting vary is considerably restricted; nevertheless, there are areas in temperate zones the place kenaf might be cultivated. In the US the cultivation of kenaf is just not solely a chance, it’s already a actuality. Kenaf can develop in areas that historically develop cotton and tobacco. It’s at the moment being cultivated in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
The US Division of Agriculture (USDA) started analysis on kenaf as early as 1940, and twenty years later in 1960, the kenaf plant was chosen from 500 different crops as essentially the most promising non-wood fiber different for the manufacture of paper. By 1986, the USDA and Kenaf Worldwide, a three way partnership firm, had initiated the Kenaf Demonstration Venture. The target was to indicate that kenaf pulp was a viable different to wooden pulp. When it comes to cost-efficiency, high quality and usefulness kenaf aced the check when a yr later the mission efficiently proved its level: 82% kenaf (18% bleached) newsprint was examined at 4 American newspapers. Making commercially viable paper out of kenaf was certainly doable. Whereas kenaf had been historically used for packing and sacking materials, it was changing into more and more clear that it made a superb paper different too: newsprint, high-quality writing paper and specialty papers can all be produced from kenaf.
A 1993 article appeared in E: Environmental Journal with the optimistic title, “Tree Free by 1993?” Quick ahead to 2007. Kenaf remains to be not a family title. Recycling is king, not kenaf–nor any of the opposite plant fiber alternate options to wooden pulping for that matter. We recycle, however we pay little or no consideration to discovering the final word different to utilizing bushes for making paper merchandise. There was little or no progress in telling the world about this crop and its myriad makes use of. And that is an actual disgrace as a result of the advantages derived from rising, distributing and making paper merchandise out of kenaf are so apparent that even shoppers who usually are not specialists or researchers can’t dispute them. These days, there’s a fair better urgency to search out the very best options to our ever-worsening environmental scenario. Simply as alternate options to fossil fuels are being aggressively researched, alternate options to wooden pulping for paper merchandise should even be pursued with equal dedication. Funding, governmental help, and elevating consciousness that would change attitudes, views and habits are all required now.
What makes kenaf such a gorgeous alternative? The explanations are quite a few. First, as a crop plant that may be grown and harvested yearly, the organic effectivity of kenaf is superior to the forest-based provide chain that begins with tree propagation and ends years later with logging. Merely put, utilizing kenaf because the uncooked materials as an alternative of wooden pulp will cut back the general price of constructing paper from the outset. Second, the precise pulping course of for kenaf is extra environmentally pleasant: hydrogen peroxide is used for the bleaching course of versus the extra dangerous substance, chlorine, which is required to brighten pulp derived from wooden. Moreover, the kenaf pulping course of makes use of much less vitality (about 30%), primarily as a result of kenaf has a decrease lignin content material than wooden. Much less strain and fewer warmth are wanted to interrupt it down. However this low lignin content material provides up yet one more environmental bonus: smaller quantities of chemical are literally required to bleach the kenaf pulp. That is excellent news throughout, particularly for our lakes, rivers and streams.
And as if the above causes weren’t sufficient, kenaf, regardless of its restricted rising vary in northern climes, might be grown all yr in tropical areas or turn out to be a “summer season” crop in temperate and sub-tropical zones. It additionally prospers in quite a lot of soils, so on a worldwide scale, kenaf has the potential of being produced often and abundantly to maintain a continuing provide ought to it turn out to be extra in demand. Along with all of those optimistic causes, it has been reported that the conversion of current mills to kenaf paper producing mills might be carried out with affordable ease. And since kenaf might be blended with both recycled paper and even virgin pulp, conversions might be transitional and phased over time.
So why is kenaf–not to say jute, ramie, flax and hemp–still not extensively used as an alternative choice to papermaking from wooden? Whereas some cite points surrounding the rising season, sustaining a continuing provide, transportation, storage, and financing amongst different “actual world” points that always hamper the method of taking innovations and new strategies from principle to apply, the largest impediment is maybe the dearth of public consciousness. Environmentalists have lengthy been dismissed as alarmists, and getting the message out about viable, sustainable alternate options to our present consumption habits has been an uphill battle for many years. Witness how solely lately, after one of many hottest years on document, and solely after a daunting and plain assertion made by the world’s scientific neighborhood, the topic of environmental degradation has turn out to be a problem in mainstream media.
Shockingly, many individuals are nonetheless not conscious that wooden and wooden merchandise come from dwelling forests! From the clear-cutting of big tracts of forests to the poisoning of the streams and rivers with dioxin and chlorine run-off from paper mills, making paper from wooden simply would not make plenty of sense, particularly at the present time. If individuals have been conscious that they might have a top quality paper product that might not yellow or turn out to be brittle with age, that could possibly be made cheaply and would do much less hurt to the setting in addition, actual adjustments would possibly start to rumble by the papermaking business. The phrase must be unfold. The thought has to take maintain. Folks must be educated first, after which inspired to behave on their data and convictions.
At present, analysis continues in a variety of international locations as organizations and industries discover the ramifications of kenaf cultivation, pulping and paper manufacturing. In the US corporations making 100% kenaf, tree-free, chlorine-free, and acid-free paper, or creating merchandise from these environmentally pleasant alternate options have been bobbing up. With a little bit little bit of effort a client who desires to purchase “inexperienced” can now discover paper, stationery, greeting playing cards, and a number of different merchandise all produced from 100% kenaf.
In June of this yr, the 2007 Symposium on Kenaf and Allied Fibres takes place in Xiamen, China. It’s hoped that this gathering is not going to solely draw the scientific and agricultural neighborhood but in addition forward-thinking entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who can discover fascinating and revolutionary methods to unfold the phrase about kenaf.
However it’s not simply the entrepreneurs or the advertising gurus who have an effect on change. As shoppers we now have it in our energy to ask questions and make calls for. It additionally rests with us, and the extra conscious we’re of the alternate options that may actually supply us sustainable dwelling, the extra we will contribute to the dialog about saving our planet’s assets. The subsequent time you might be looking for paper, why not simply ask “So, do you have got this in kenaf?”
The scope of this paper has not been capable of cope with lots of the complexities of the subject. For extra details about kenaf and different tree-free papers, a fast search on Google will lead you to a variety of websites and hyperlinks that may present the most recent analysis, information and figures, even the place to purchase these different merchandise. The American Kenaf Society’s web site is an effective place to start out studying about kenaf.