Business & Industry

Aug 1, 2016


Although we are living in a digital era, when touchscreens overcame handbooks, and paper became incredibly polluting and resource wasting, we can't imagine our lives without paper, or at least a printing medium. In this context TerraSkin emerges, a type of paper made of stone, made without the use of trees nor water.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the pulp and paper industry is one of the world's largest consumers of resources. It uses more than 40 percent of the industrial wood traded globally, it is the largest consumer of water for industrial purposes in developed countries, and, in terms of energy consuming, the largest share of greenhouse gases released in this sector derives from the energy produced to power the mills.

Design & Source Productions is a design company established in 1996, that became a sustainable solution provider, and whose headquarters are based in the New York City and are totally wind-powered. Due to their sustainability commitment, they decided to establish the Environmental Division - Chameleon Packaging™, dedicated to sourcing the most sustainable solutions for today's design needs.

For this reason, they started to produce TerraSkin– stone paper. This innovative material (which ironically exists for at least 10 years), combines more than 75% calcium carbonate mineral powder with less than 25% of Polyethylene (PE) non-toxic resin, creating a kind of paper that not only is sustainably produced, but that can be recycled, and is degradable as well.

In 2007, TerraSkin proudly received a "Silver Cradle to Cradle Certification". Cradle to Cradle classifies a company's sustainable behaviour, that is, if they comply with a series of aspects, such as use of environmentally safe and neutral for health materials; material reutilization, such as recycling or composting; the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency; efficient use of water, the maximum water quality associated with production; and institution strategies for social responsibility.

TerraSkin is made without using water, through a state-of-the-art production that also doesn't emit toxic air. Their production reduces both energy consumption and CO2 emissions: they consume only about 50 % of the pulp printing paper's energy consumption, and release 50% less CO2. Plus, the stone paper does not need bleach.

TerraSkin is furthermore degradable. The material will start degrading after six to nine months under the proper conditions – high heat, moisture, and UV light. This raises questions about its outdoor usage, but the company is developing other TerraSkin products for this purpose, that will have additional UV resistance.

Stone paper has been widely tested with a huge panoply of artistic materials. It has been experimented on, and it was well received in the artistic community. In artistic works, the paper receives paints very well, dries fast, and it also works with dry materials, such as graphite or pastel. Various artists compare using this paper to painting gesso.

When it comes to printing and design, the option range is even bigger: cards, shopping bags, cartons, signs, books, labels, packaging, a huge panoply of original uses is possible. The printing properties of TerraSkin are beautiful, with its smooth texture. The paper is fibreless, and as such, it uses less ink because it will not absorb ink like regular paper does. Printed images are sharper and cleaner - the ink doesn't bleed.

Paper made from trees is becoming obsolete. Naturally, there is a long way to go, in order to implement other, more sustainable, and economic options worldwide, but the fact is that regular paper is not truly necessary for today's needs. There are fields where it will keep on being used, such as medicine, or arts, but for most needs, stone paper is quite a reliable option. It actually performs better in some applications than regular pulp paper. This could be one of the ways to reduce deforestation, a problem that affects the whole Planet, with severe consequences.

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