Netherlands-based startup Paper/On The Rocks has developed a tree-free paper made from mining waste it calls Stonepaper – a move to reduce the use of traditional resources used to produce paper.
Despite the development of digital reading devices like the Kindle and the migration of printed newspapers, magazines and catalogues online, the paper industry has not declined as steeply as might have been expected. A recent report shows global paper use has increased by 400 per cent within the last 40 years.
Furthermore, despite the increased awareness of plastic waste, online shopping has become more popular, along with the paper and board used in packaging.
Although eco-friendly paper is available – made from recycled or other cellulose-based materials – recycling paper still uses a significant amount of water, raw materials, and energy.
The company says Stonepaper looks and feels the same as traditional paper but doesn’t use the same amount of resources and is “infinitely recyclable”.
Stonepaper is made using waste rock like Limestone (Calcium Carbonate) left over from various mining processes. The stones are crushed into fine dust and mixed with a small amount of partially recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene).
When heated, the finished material acts and feels like a balloon and is extremely stretchable, allowing it to be pulled into thin sheets. Once cooled, the sheets can be rolled and cut just like pulp-based paper.
According to the startup, tree-free paper is infinitely recyclable because it can be processed in traditional plastic recycling plants.
Paper and pulp use is expected to rise until 2060, and the startup seeks to help against further deforestation by developing a stonepaper recycling stream in the near future.