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Four alternative paper sources

PMG Print Management operates in an unsurprisingly paper-intensive industry, but this does not mean that it has to be an environmentally unfriendly one. Indeed, one of the main aims of a PMG print inspection is to save paper, while all of our paper stocks are sourced from areas of sustainable forest that are actually growing in size every year. Still, there are many viable alternatives to the traditional raw materials used in paper production. Here is a sample of four of the more unusual examples…



True, it is possible that advocates of the use of hemp sometimes have ulterior motives, but recreational drug use aside, hemp really does have the potential to replace conventional paper pulp sources. It is said that not only does the plant produce its own natural herbicide but furthermore there are few pests that find it palatable. Paired with the fact that hemp produces twice as much usable paper fibre per acre as pine, yields can be exceptionally high. At present, due to lack of investment and suitable industrial technology to process hemp pulp in large quantities, the cost of producing hemp-based paper is high. Environmentally, however, hemp is a unique pulp material since it requires relatively little water, few pesticides and takes up very little land in comparison to its competitors.


Post-consumer waste

In the print industry, post-consumer waste refers to paper that is recycled. The recycling process requires the paper to be broken down, firstly using a mixture of water and chemicals and then through heating. The resulting pulp is pure cellulose. Filtering can then remove any remaining imperfections in the cellulose, such as glue or plastic. What remains is then mixed with water, deinked and bleached. However, paper fibres cannot be recycled indefinitely – tree-sourced paper fibres can be recycled up to seven times before they become obsolete. It is thought that unconventional paper sources such as hemp can stand to be recycled many more times than this.


Agricultural waste

Many commonly grown products leave behind waste streams that can be at least partly used to make paper pulp. Tropical plantations such as those growing bananas, tobacco and coffee all frequently allow their wastes to be used to make paper pulp. The wastes are first broken down and the naturally occurring resins removed, before the remaining cellulose is then mixed with post consumer-based pulp, since only a small amount of the agricultural waste represents usable fibre. The final product can be of varying colours depending on the agricultural waste used, and this tends to mean that such paper is most often used artistically and not en masse.



Yes, poo. Poo can be used to make paper pulp. None of your sloppy human stuff mind, it needs to be fibrous. Typical sources are animals that have poor digestive systems, such as elephants and horses. After an initial cleaning to remove impurities such as stones, leaves and mud, the poo goes through a boiling process that can last up to six hours – depending on the manufacturer, chemicals could be added here too. The resulting material is soft and closely resembles the texture of pulp. Similarly to the above, poo pulp may require the addition of other fibres, be they post-consumer or agricultural wastes. Since the production of poo-based paper pulp is isolated to non-industrialised countries, the production of the paper sheets tends to be done using the ancient method of screening. This simply involves allowing the wet pulp to dry in the sun within the confines of a frame.


When you ask us to complete an inside out print inspection for your business, we might not recommend using poo-based paper but there are many other ways that your business could save paper and dramatically cut costs, too. Take a look at our website to find out more about our approach to clever print management.

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