Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Alternative to Trees?

We talk about eco friendly paper and saving trees and were somewhat taken aback to discover an alternative via Vision Paper ( They work with U.S. farmers to produce tree-free alternatives to paper fiber based on kenaf-based papers.

Kenaf is a 4000 year old crop that originated in Africa, and is now being farmed in many parts of the U.S. A member of the hibiscus family (Hibiscus cannabinus L), it is related to cotton and okra, and grows well in many parts of the U.S. and requires no fertilizers or pesticides for growth. It offers a way to make paper without cutting trees. Kenaf grows quickly, rising to heights of 12-14 feet in as little as 4 to 5 months. U.S. Department of Agriculture studies show that kenaf yields of 6 to 10 tons of dry fiber per acre per year are generally 3 to 5 times greater than the yield for Southern pine trees, which can take from 7 to 40 years to reach harvestable size. Kenaf fiber papers are energy efficient to process, while using fewer chemicals and no chlorine compounds.

It may not prove a viable solution to the demands of the industry but does demonstrate that alternatives to trees are around.