About two years ago, I think —I was invited by Raymond Wensing of FWa Drukwerk to visit his environmentally friendly printing company for a guided tour. After a very extensive tour of the facility, he shows me some samples of the work they do. One of them is a poster.
But this is no ordinary poster. It is made of this new material. He hands me the poster and says: “Feel it. What do you think this is made of?" I take the poster and I start to feel the material. Somehow it feels quite soft, but strong at the same time. I have to admit that I have no clue what this new material is.
After a few guesses, Raymond reveals to me that is made of stone. Stone with some kind of resin. I could hardly believe it, but its was true. This was my first introduction with stone paper.
I forgot about the material until I contacted Ecodrukkers a few weeks ago for a quote for an annual report I’m working on for a client. After talking on the phone with Petra for a bit, she mentioned stone paper and offered to include this paper in the quote as well.
PAPER MADE FROM ROCKS
That got me thinking... I hardly know anything about this material and I’d love to know more. So, I did some research and this is what I found so far. Here are some of the questions I wanted to get answered: What is stone paper exactly? How is it produced? What makes it environmentally friendly?
And here are some of my findings:
Stone paper (also known as rock paper, paper from waste marble, mineral paper, or rich mineral paper) is a paper-like product manufactured from calcium carbonate bonded with high-density polyethylene (HDPE). It is used for stationery, leaflets, posters, books, magazines, bags, packaging, wallpaper, adhesives, tags, in-mould labels, plates, trays, containers and many other uses.
It’s made from 80% calcium carbonate waste from quarries. Which is fully recyclable. Additionally stone paper is made with 58% recycled calcium carbonate already. The other 20% is recycled HDPE (20%), a non-toxic resin produced from the chemical compound ethylene. Under the right circumstances this is fully recyclable. 27% of the HDPE used in stone paper is already recycled.
Tree free, water free and bleach free. Waterproof, bacteria-proof and tear resistent, but somewhat heavier as it is made from stone.
Some of it’s uses, shared by TerraSkin —a producer of paper made from stone:
Petra from Ecodrukkers was also kind enough to answer some more questions about the material and send me an information package. You can download the factsheet for more detailed information below:
According to the information provided by Ecodrukkers and some of the producers of this kind of paper, stone paper has less of an impact on the environment than pulp paper. But when I read more and more articles, this is still somewhat of a debate.
What I noticed after reading the information send by Ecodrukkers is that they don’t explain much about the 20% HDPE resin component of the stone paper. Which is actually the part that is most debated on. They claim that it’s a non-toxic resin that can be recycled under the right circumstances —according to the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), it’s considered a Type 2 plastic, which is widely accepted at recycling centers, but not always. It’s photo-degradable "with 14-18 months of sunlight exposure” (source: WIRED), but it usually isn’t compostable (only when done by a commercial party).
In the end it is partly made from polyethylene, which is and always will be made from oil —an non renewable resource.
ROCK PAPER SCISSORS LIZARD SPOCK
Choosing to use stone paper can still be quite a challenge —just like playing rock paper scissors lizard spock. I can imagine that the plastic resin part of the material might make you hesitant. I must admit that I feel somewhat similar.
I do however feel that the stone paper has it’s uses. The fact that it's waterproof, bacteria-proof and tear resistent makes it really useful for certain applications, like the ones mentioned in the TerraSkin video above:
“Grease-proof paper, paper for posters, paper for books that need 30% less ink to print, paper for bags —that can make pretty good umbrellas."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON STONE PAPER?
Would you use it?
Experience the material yourself! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just drop me a line in the comments below.
And as a gift I’ll send this OGAMI notebook —the first notebook made from stone— to one of you.
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