Ever make a major life decision by playing the game Paper-Scissors-Rock?

In this day and age (as with any day and age), technology has a way of creating problems in its process of finding solutions. Here’s what’s going on: My e-mail box gets about as many pieces of clutter focused on the topics of greening and sustainability as all other topics combined. And, I have to be honest. I only have time and inclination to read the subject line on most of the stuff. (Tip: If you want to get an editor’s attention these days, write good subject lines.) One that caught my eye recently was about tree-free paper made from stone. Now, that’s catchy.

Natural Source Printing, Orange, Calif., a certified and carbon-neutral source for sustainable, eco-friendly printing, packaging and marketing material, has introduced FiberStone papers. These are tree-free papers that come from an abundant renewable, sustainable resource—limestone.

According to Mary Loyer, Natural Source Printing’s president, tree-free papers have a carbon footprint that is at least one-third that of virgin paper and half that of recycled paper. Loyer says the production of FiberStone papers uses no water in processing, no trees, no chemicals and very little energy.

Currently, calcium carbonate is used as a whitening agent for regular virgin and recycled paper; however, it’s been discovered that it can replace virgin or recycled paper altogether. To the touch, this new substance feels like a regular coated paper. And, because it doesn’t require water to manufacture, it saves more than just trees. The company produces a number of products in the transport packaging space, particularly boxes and cartons, along with dunnage and a14-pound pallet.

How do you make paper from stone? And, should it still be called paper? According to the company’s Web site, FiberStone paper is made from 80% calcium carbonate (CaCO³) with a small quantity (20%) of non-toxic resin (HDPE, high-density polyethylene). The calcium carbonate comes from limestone collected as waste material from existing quarries for the building and construction industry. It is ground into a fine, powder-like chalk, and the HDPE acts as a binder for the calcium carbonate. Together, these materials create a substrate that is both water and tear resistant.

Clyde Witt
Clyde E. Witt Editor-in-Chief clyde.witt@penton.com

It can be used as a substitute for traditional papers used in the printing industry, such as synthetic paper and film, premium coated paper, recycled paper and PVC sheeting. Being impervious to water, it can also be useful for outdoor applications. Applications in warehousing and manufacturing facilities are obvious.

Again, according to the company’s news information, one ton of FiberStone paper means 20 fewer trees are destroyed, 42 pounds of water-borne waste are not created, as well as many other environmental attributes that will ensue.

Yes, this new tree-less paper can be recycled to make new FiberStone paper. It can also be transformed into other plastic products, such as lumber, furniture and reusable containers.

So, the question now is, if paper is no longer paper because it’s made from rock, and rock can break scissors, who wins? Environmentally speaking, I guess we all do.