Paper manufactured from alternative fibres is not a new concept. In fact, for hundreds of years, papers have been produced from fibres other than wood.

Cotton is still a popular choice in the production of paper and produces an exceptionally smooth and slightly tactile sheet that can be used with a variety of printing processes. For example, Neenah Paper’s cotton rich Cranes Crest range is suitable for all business stationery and text and cover applications. It is actually considered to be the ultimate letterhead grade with some of the most famous politicians choosing it for their important letters. Nowadays, the cotton is a by-product of the clothing industry: the longest fibres are used for textiles, the shorter fibres (still long compared to wood pulp) are used to make paper.

There is no lack of interesting finishes and fibre content around. GF Smith, for example, has Rubicon listed in its portfolio of products. Rubicon is made from bamboo and has a smooth white or natural surface and according to the company, with a special surface treatment, is able to reproduce colour and line work exceptionally well. The company believes that the demand by designers for papers with sound environmental criteria remains high and many projects not only require these credentials, but also a highly printable sheet of paper.

Another paper made from bamboo is Freelife Kendo from Fedrigoni, which contains a 20% alternative content from Kenaf and bamboo plants (Kenaf is an annual plant similar to hemp). The use of Kenaf and bamboo makes it possible to produce a tenacious paper of very high bulk, with good opacity and an out of the ordinary touch.

In recent years, sources of supply have globalized to include Egypt (Papyrus), India (100% recycled cotton), Japan (papers made from plants such as Gampi, Hemp and Kozu) and the extraordinary Himalayan papers in Lokta fibre, combined with other indigenous plants like onion, banana and walnut, resulting in stunning surfaces which creative paper users find irresistible’.

Some customers are keen to make a statement by using alternative fibres to woodpulp. The main environmental reason for using these fibres is that they are annually renewable crops. Different fibres also impart different qualities to the paper, for example, cotton lends a highly tactile feel as well as durability and permanence.