Paper from Grass
As the demand for single-use plastic packaging continues to decline, the popularity of paper packing is on the rise. But traditional manufacturing methods that use wood pulp require large amounts of water, chemicals, and energy, so paper makers are turning to more sustainable alternatives. One option is grass — a raw material that can be sourced virtually anywhere, from backyards to abandoned cattle farms.
When dried into hay, it can be processed into pellets that are drop-in replacements for wood pulp at paper mills. Known as “grasspap,” the product has been tested at some smaller mills with good success. The new material cuts water usage during paper production by 99 percent and reduces overall energy requirements by 97 percent. It also eliminates the need for chemicals such as sodium phosphate that are traditionally used to break down the wood fibers. In addition, grass regrows more quickly than trees, creating a more sustainable flow of raw materials.
The resulting paper can be used for a variety of products by varying the ratio of wood pulp to grass pulp, including bags, cardboard, and tissue paper.