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Tree-free? Sustainability’s impact on paper

June 29, 2016  By Cindy Macdonald

Specialty Papers US 2016 will feature a two-day agenda filled with insights, discussions and presentations focused on specialty paper packaging, alternative sources of wood pulp, and new technologies with raw materials and fibers. 

Ahead of his presentation titled Tree-Free Sustainable Packaging, the conference organizer, Smithers Pira sat down with Rich Cohen, founder and president of Distant Village Packaging to get his insights on the growing interest in “tree-free” or non-wood paper.

Smithers Pira: Why do you think there is a growing interest in “tree-free” or “non-wood” paper?


Rich Cohen: Sustainability is becoming a growing concern and continues to become part of the foundation of more and more companies brand message. As eco-friendly and organic-driven product lines develop, the desire to have recycled and tree-free paper has grown as a way to become more sustainable and position their brand to meet the needs of the growing sustainable market. I expect to see this trend continue to grow and escalate over the next decade.

Smithers Pira: Why is “tree free” considered more sustainable?

Rich Cohen: Saving trees has been tightly connected with preserving our earth and with being more sustainable. I think there is a lively debate around this topic, especially with consideration to sustainably harvested trees which are also sustainable in many respects. However, there are some outstanding tree-free plant materials and plant waste by-products which produce attractive quality papers including hemp, bagasse, mulberry, and water hyacinth. Some have original and unique sustainable stories, such as water hyacinth paper, which we use in producing beautiful natural jewelry boxes with a very organic look and appeal.

Smithers Pira: Do you see this as an area that will continue to grow for specialty papers? 

Rich Cohen: The great thing about specialty papers is that they are unique and original – and create an appealing aesthetic experience. When the physical materials coupled with the experience around the paper’s story resonate with the times and trends, for example hemp paper, specialty papers have a particularly exciting meaningful for that market. In terms of packaging, brand owners want to tell a story with a 360 degree view. Specialty papers enable that creative and compelling unique experience for a brand. The growth opportunity for specialty papers is not a certain paper, fiber, or message, but rather understanding the trends and needs of the marketplace and providing the canvas for the story to be expressed.

Read the full interview with Rich Cohen here

Readers of Pulp & Paper Canada can use the following discount code when registering for Specialty Papers US 2016: PPCSPUS16

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