Tree-free paper, as the name suggests, is paper that does not come from trees. Instead of using wood pulp to create paper, manufacturers will use a range of different substances. Some of them are obvious such as bamboo; bamboo is an easy replacement for wood in many applications. Other grasses are also simple replacements. However, there are also some that are not quite as obvious; for example, paper can be made from limestone.
The paper industry is a very competitive industry with very tight margins, though. So, does tree-free paper have a future in printing?
Tree-free printing is something of a small niche interest that does not appeal to many larger companies. That is because there are very tight profit margins in printing already. So, any raw materials will need to be very inexpensive. Most tree-free paper raw materials are about the same price or more expensive when compared to traditional wood pulp. However, there are a few that do have an advantage that suggests tree-free paper will stick around.
For one, many printing companies are offering as many renewable and sustainable options as they can. So, there will always be a demand. On top of that, some of the raw materials are more readily replaced than trees. Certain types of bamboo can grow as much as a foot a day during good weather. So, a company could clear cut a bamboo field and then have a field of quality bamboo again in two weeks.
Other companies use industrial waste as the raw material for their tree-free paper. They might use sugarcane from sugar plants or fabric fibers from textile mills. That means that there will always be a supply of raw materials.
For those reasons alone, tree-free paper is likely to remain a part of printing.
It’s difficult to imagine that the primary paper of the future will be made from trees. So much is moving in a more sustainable direction that it stands to reason, the printing industry will slowly push its way towards a completely sustainable paper. Bamboo is an obvious candidate for raw materials but there are many other fibers that are available.
If you’re looking for a kind of tree-free paper, it’s likely that your local printing companies will know of at least one. The future of tree-free printing will ultimately be decided by demand. If printing companies are getting orders for tree-free print jobs, they’ll buy more of it and the industry will grow.