Chlorine Free Paper Issues


Is there an optimal mix of tree free fibers with tree fibers in a paper?

When it comes to the molecular levels of fibers, there is no distinction between the wood fibers and nonwood fibers. Fiber lengths and widths are the only concern and more on the fiber length. - James S Han, Research Chemist, USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory

It depends on the fiber properties. If the fiber characteristics are inappropriate for papermaking, the optimal mix may be less than 10% nonwood. If the fiber resembles wood fiber, such as kenaf, the optimal mix is 100% nonwood. - Tom Rymsza, President, Vision Paper

A 50/50 blend would be ideal, starting with 25% ag fiber would be a great first step. - Jeff Lindenthal, President, Green Field Paper Company

Again, there is so much variation in the quality of the non-woods, if a poor quality pulp is produced than of course there will be performance problems. If a high quality non-wood pulp is produced, there will not be performance problems. Most practicalists now advocating for the use of non-woods in paper want to see a blend of minimum 30% ag-residues, minimum 35% post-consumer recycled and the remaining from a dedicated fiber, whether FSC wood or non-wood, or both. - Jeanne Trombly, Fiber Futures

Yes, but it varies from fiber to fiber and type of tree fiber whether you are using softwood or hardwood and what species of tree. - Living Tree Paper Company

All sorts of blends of woods with non-woods and non-woods with other non-woods have produced viable paper. The ideal mix would depend on the bioregional availability of particular fibers and what type of paper is desired.
      It would be interesting to issue a protocol for 33/33/33, calling for 33% ag-residues, 33% post-consumer recycled and 33% ecologic certified "fresh" fiber as it is called in Germany. This could mean virgin wood or a dedicated non-wood crop, such as hemp or kenaf or bamboo or Arundo. All paper would meet this protocol; variations would be issued depending on where one is located, what type of paper is needed and other local conditions. - Jeanne Trombly, Fiber Futures

Depending on the grade of paper desired. The spectrum of agri-fiber is very broad; thus, the range of paper products that could be made is also large.
      See, for example, my presentations, "Experience in the Technical and Market Development of Agri-Pulp Printing Papers in North America," "Selected Physical Properties of Blends of Wood Pulp and Alkaline Sulphite Flax Straw Pulp," "Alkaline Sulphite Pulping of Hesperaloe, An Arid-Zone Native Fiber Plant from Northern Mexico," "Alkaline Sulphite Pulping of Red Fescue(Festuca rubra L. var. Boreal) Straw," and "Alkaline Sulphite Pulping of Spartina Grass (Spartina alterniflora Loisel)." - Al Wong, Founder, Arbokem

Different paper grades require different combinations of fiber types and other additives. Depending on the type of paper being produced, there may be no combination of agricultural fibers that produces the desired finished product. - International Paper

What is important in making paper is not the specific source of the fiber so much as its particular attributes. Even papers made entirely of forest fibers generally incorporate several different tree species because each brings different important qualities. So also with nonwood fibers, it is important to mix long fibers (for strength) and short fibers (for flexibility), with the specific proportions dependant on the particular type of paper being produced and the performance requirements it must meet. As we've seen in many of the tables in the Listening Study, nonwood fibers cover a whole range of fiber lengths. Therefore, it is feasible (and actually already occurring) that some papers could include only different types of nonwood fibers, while others might incorporate some forest fibers for different properties. Ultimately, we hope that long nonwood fibers will replace most of the forest fibers in paper (with the shorter fibers being supplied by recycled content) so that the demand for trees is significantly reduced and reoriented towards products in which wood truly is the only and/or best material. (Even the most ecologically acceptable product uses for trees, however, are likely to produce sawdust, which currently is an important source of virgin forest fiber in papers and may be of acceptable environmental value in paper even in a predominantly nonwood fiber future.) - Susan Kinsella, Conservatree

The appropriate mix depends entirely on the end-use application, and the performance properties each fiber brings to the sheet. - Peter Hopkins, Environmental Papers Consultant for Crane Paper Company, Gargan Communications

The optimal mix would depend on the specific paper grade, as partly discussed above. - Michael Jackson, Consultant, Tolovana Park, OR

It depends on the paper product, the region, etc., as described above. - Peter A. Nelson, President, AgroTech Communications, Inc.

You can mix Arundo donax just like softwoods and hardwoods, where one has short fibers and the other long. Arundo donax, on the other hand has both short and long fibers. - Ernett Altherimer, Founder and Chairman, Nile Fiber

The producers of the range of specialty papers being manufactured today from nonwood fibers may attest to the levels of quality which are possible and when we consider the blending of nonwoods with recycled fibers, wood and other nonwood species. - Hurter 1998

Table 12. Fiber Dimensions of Nonwood Plant Fibers
Nonwood fiber Average length (mm) Average diameter (microns)
Abaca (Manila hemp) 6 24
Bagasse (depithed) 1.0-1.5 20
Bamboo 2.7-4 15
Com stalk and sorghum (depithed) 1.0-1.5 20
Cotton fiber 25 20
Cotton stalks 0.6-0.8 20-30
Crotalaria sp. (sun hemp) 3.7 25
Esparto 1.5 12
Flax straw 30 20
Hemp 20 22
Jute 2.5 20
Kenaf bast fiber 2.6 20
Kenaf core fiber 0.6 30
Rags 25 20
Reeds 1.0-1.8 10-20
Rice straw 0.5-1.0 8-10
Sisal 3 20
Wheat straw 1.5 15
Wood fibers
Temperate zone coniferous woods 2.7-4.6 32-43
Temperate zone hardwoods 0.7-1.6 20-40
Mixed tropical hardwoods 0.7-3.0 20-40
Eucalyptus sp. 0.7-1.3 20-30

Source: Pande 1998, citing
Original Source: Atchison and McGovern (1993)

The Listening Study is a project of Conservatree
Copyright 2003-2011 Conservatree
Terms of Use

Market Factors Conclusion Recycled Content Issues Chlorine Free Paper Issues Sustainable Forest Issues Tree Free Paper Issues Join the Discussion View all PDF documents Bibliography Overview Project Director Project Partners FAQ Email Us