Exciting Innovation: Paper from Plastic

We all know by now that plastic water bottles are a scourge on the environment. According to statistics compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), only about 13 percent of water bottles in the US are recycled. This leaves millions of tons every year being put into landfills.

So, along with not making new bottles, what can we do with the old ones that would benefit the environment, instead of further harming it? Why not turn them into paper!? That’s right, a team of young inventors in Mexico have successfully produced mineral paper out of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

This new system of paper production was developed by a company known as Cronology, based just north of Mexico City, which recently received funding in support of its green initiatives. Regarding this new form of paper, co-founder Ever Adrian Nava states:

“We manufacture ecological paper created with recycled plastic bottles, calcium carbonate and stone. We don’t use water or chemicals, such as chlorine. The mineral paper is stronger than the standard, you can not break it with your hands, is waterproof, has the quality of being photodegradable and only absorbs the necessary amount of ink when printing.”

The mineral paper is also being called stone paper, or peta paper, and meets quality standards for printing various items, including boxes and stationary. According to the researchers, the sole limitation of the paper is that it cannot be written on with ink gel (due to its alcohol content) – but standard ink is alright.

To manufacture about a ton of paper, just over 500 pounds of PET bottles are needed. This keeps a lot of bottles out of landfills. Cronology also states that their system saves 56,000 liters of water, and 20 trees, for every ton of paper that is manufactured.

While other plastic-to-paper operations exist in Taiwan and Spain, Cronology claims theirs is four times cheaper, due to their avoidance of water, chemicals and chlorine.

plasticA note on PET: this is a type of plastic that contains phthalates, compounds linked to hormonal disruption, allergies, obesity, and reproductive toxicity. These chemicals may leach into foods or beverages, especially when heated. For this reason, using recycled PET for paper (which generally does not enter our bodies) may be a much better use than most – as long as it is paper that will not be used to package food or drink items.

Until our country gets on board, and we start producing our own mineral paper, we can all still do our part by using less plastic – it may be easier than you think.

-The Alternative Daily


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