WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
For thousands of years paper has been made using pulp from trees, but a few years ago that changed and now paper made from stone is hitting the shelves in a big way.
If you haven’t heard of paper that’s made from stone before then you’re probably not alone, after all, until now it’s not been a thing. But now it is and it’s called RePap, or Paper spelt backwards, and it’s becoming increasingly popular.
When compared to regular, pulp based paper stone paper has some attractive characteristics as a writing material, and at first touch you can tell the sheets aren’t normal paper. The pages are smoother, and it’s an effort to tear them but you can write just as well on stone paper as you can on regular paper. Ink writes just as well, or perhaps even better, and add the fact that it’s naturally durable, oil and tear resistant, and waterproof, as well as just as foldable and it’s quite easy to see why it’s hard to beat.
Over the past year or so notepads made from the material have been increasingly showing up on shelves at notebook companies including Oxford and FiberStone, and the latest company to take an interest in the new material is an Italian company called Ogami, who have produced two new notebooks from it.
Alaina Darr, who’s an inventory manager at Jenni Bick Bookbinding, a small stationary company in Seattle, says even though the store has only carried the new Ogami notebooks for less than a year, they’ve become increasingly popular with new customers.
“Rather than the same customers coming back for more, the sales are mostly from new customers,” she says, “we’re not sure if it’s word of mouth or the attraction of the new material, or quite possibly it’s both. I will need a new pocket notebook for my purse very soon and I am going to buy one of these myself.”
As if all of that wasn’t good enough already though the manufacturers behind RePap, of which there are an increasing number, also claim that the new paper manufacturing process is green. Today’s paper normally uses at least 100 tonnes of water to produce just a tonne of paper, but the new stone paper uses 20 percent High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), one of the world’s most common recyclable plastics, and 80 percent Calcium Carbonate, one of the most common materials on the planet that’s found in everything from rocks and shells to eggs and that’s still used today to, ironically, make traditional paper whiter, brighter and glossier.
So it’s stronger, more durable and it’s waterproof. It’s also more environmentally friendly – that is depending on your view of plastics and the fact that traditional paper companies cut down then replenish huge forests that help suck up Carbon Dioxide. So with all this going for it, we have to ask – is a hundred million year old rock, and a new cutting edge manufacturing process the future of paper?