Making paper

Making paper pulp

Paper fibers vary throughout the world and, although wood dominates, many other plant fibres have significant potential because they are currently wasted, or importance for specialist uses.

Reeds of all types have entered the paper market in China and to a lesser extent in Europe. Reeds are a by-product from constructed wetland sewage treatment. Papyrus, the root word of "paper", is the flattened interior of a reed that grows along the river Nile and other parts of Asia. India and Africa still produce small amounts of papyrus paper (though this is not what we call paper today, where the fibres are separated and reconstituted as sheets, but rather the mashed stem pulp and fibres dried into flat sheets).

So-called rice paper comes not from rice but from other plants: Tetrapanax payriferum, Edgeworthia tomentosa and Wickstroemia canescens, which all transform into elegant fibrous sheets. Paper mulberry bark with its soft, lustrous fibers has been used in Japan for paper lanterns, umbrellas, and writing paper.

Sisal hemp or maguey Agave cantala grows on arid soils worldwide, with superior tear and tensile strength compared to wood. The paper is bright and white, requiring little bleach, and producers can switch from paper to hard fiber cordage depending on price.

Cornstalks, which comprise thirty percent of all plant waste fibre in the USA, have not yet been incorporated into paper. China jute or Indian mallow Abutilon theophrasti is a lot like jute and now grows weed-like in the USA. Adding it to paper would generate revenues from weed-control.

Industry Manufacture
Industry Paper
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies