What is Grass Paper?
September 22 2021
As the print industry moves towards a more sustainable future, exciting new print materials like grass paper are emerging to solve solutions.
One of the biggest challenges the print industry faces is the sustainability of wood-based paper. Trees are grown and felled to make virgin paper, an infinite cycle because cellulose (the basis for paper products) is not infinitely recyclable.
This destructive process is worse when considering the whole supply chain from transport to the chemicals used to bleach paper.
Clearly, eco-friendly alternatives to wood pulp paper are needed, and grass paper is one of these alternatives (along with hemp, bamboo and cotton paper).
What is grass paper?
Grass paper is made from a significant proportion of grass fibres, typically up to 60%, with the remaining portion made from recycled wood fibres.
It’s as versatile as regular paper, suitable for folding, printing and packaging, with a slightly rougher texture and a green-beige tint.
How is grass paper made?
Production starts with hay, dried grass, which is grown and collected around the world in agriculture. The hay is cleaned, mechanically shredded, the fibres are processed to length, and the product is pressed into grass pellets.
The grass pellets are added directly to pulping machines containing virgin or recycled wood pulp, creating a homogenous base.
The cellulose fibres are extracted during mixing, and the finished pulp is placed on a paper making machine where it is flattened, dried and processed.
Typically, grass paper contains 10% to 60% grass. Although 10% grass doesn’t sound like a lot, it significantly reduces the energy and water involved in producing the paper, and it also eliminates the need for chemicals in manufacturing.
Grass paper is a significant improvement on wood pulp paper in terms of carbon emissions, energy consumption, water use, and chemical use.
it saves water
Less than one litre of water per tonne of grass fibre pulp is needed versus several thousand litres per tonne with wood fibre pulp.
it saves energy
Around 137kWh of energy is needed to manufacture one tonne of grass pulp, while wood pulp consumes 5,000 kWh of energy per tonne.
has no chemicals
While wood paper requires bleaching with chlorine dioxide, oxygen, hydrogen peroxide or ozone, grass paper isn’t bleached.
it’s easier to produce
It ontains natural cellulose and 75% less resin and lignin than wood, requiring fewer processing steps to make it into paper.
Less transport = fewer emissions
Grass is readily available in most countries on regular farms (not growing plants), keeping resources closer to factories, slashing emissions.
While wood paper is also compostable, the grass equivalent contains no chemicals, so there is no risk of it harming animals or contaminating the earth.
it doesn’t contribute to deforestation
Grass paper requires no deforestation because grass grows in fields. Even with recycled paper, deforestation continues because wood fibres are not infinitely recyclable.
Grass paper is significantly better for the environment than wood pulp paper, capable of solving many of the paper production challenges the industry faces, like distance from raw materials, manufacturing complexity and high water usage.
As a business, switching to this paper for things like leaflets and business cards is a great way to improve your eco-credentials.