Why Tree-Free Papers

  © Diana Schroder / UNSPLASH

Why do we print exclusively on tree-free papers? Many factors influenced our decision. It's not that wood-pulp-based papers are not beautiful, but the plastic coating, also known as RC (resin coating) applied to them makes them un-recyclable. Since the introduction of the Kraft process towards the end of the 1800s, wood pulp papers quickly overtook the more sustainable paper-making fibers. Paper-making since then has become a huge contributor to water contamination due to bleaching, as well as deforestation. Today some paper makers are requiring their mills to be FSC (Forrest Stewardship Council) certified, which is a step in the right direction.

Water contamination and deforestation are the two main reasons that drive us to use tree-free papers exclusively. Another motive for not using papers made out of wood pulp is that most of them come coated with petroleum based emulsions that give the paper rigidity and improve ink absorption. In making resin coated (RC) papers the high quality wood-pulp or alpha cellulose is encapsulated in two layers of polyethylene. RC coated papers are the most common photo papers in the world and because of their coating they are not recyclable. Tree-free papers do not require the polyethylene coating and are 100% recyclable.

Back to cotton. Did you know that cotton papers are not made from the actual cotton used for fabric? They are actually made from the cotton linter, or short fuzzy fibers that adhere to cottonseeds after ginning. This makes cotton-based papers extremely special. Not only is the fiber renewable, but the linter used for making paper is already a byproduct of the fabric making process.

Mulberry papers on the other hand, are made from the mulberry plant’s inner bark. Mulberry bark has been used for paper making in Asia for almost 2000 years. Because, there is no need to cut down the mulberry bush for paper-making, Washi paper comes from a renewable resource. The only drawback is that the paper is produced in Japan and needs to travel all the way to the U.S. for us to print with it.

In conclusion, we want you to know we care about our planet and every living thing on it. Our goal is to provide you with the highest quality photographic media and printing service without sacrificing the environment. We will always disclose the contents of our papers to help you make more informed decisions.

Since inception, Photo Innovation Lab has been conscious of how our products impact the environment. From the fine art papers we carry to the shipping materials we use, sustainability has been at the forefront. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding the papers we carry, our sustainability practices or any other photo-printing-related topic.