When was the last time you thought about where your paper comes from? It’s something that’s all around us, but we often don’t give it a second thought. I try to live as paper-free as possible. I read ebooks or check out books from the library if I must hold a physical book. I share my business contact information digitally rather than give out business cards. I even take photos of brochures at conventions rather than take unnecessary paper home only to be thrown away.
Despite my efforts, the truth is that getting away from paper completely simply isn’t realistic. Paper is everywhere. We use paper all the time when we aren’t even thinking about it. We use it in our bathrooms and kitchen.
Nearly everything we buy is packaged with paper. We use it to jot down important notes, capture our culture, liberate our minds, and even keep ourselves safe. The list of paper-based products is endless.
Unfortunately, the majority of our paper usage is for things we will only use once. Global toilet paper use alone accounts for 22 billion kilometers, if laid end-to-end, or 42 million tons of waste. That means we use enough toilet paper to circle the earth every 10 minutes.
One UK study found that an estimated 28,114 tons of waste is generated annually from menstrual products. It’s estimated that 50 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away in the United States every year. Every year, the United States uses more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels. Actually, paper accounts for 26% of landfill waste. That’s huge!
According to The World Counts, “From 2001 to 2019, 386 million hectares of forest were lost globally (in all forest types combined). This loss represents an almost 10 % decrease in tree cover since 2000.”
What’s the Environmental Impact of Paper Waste?
- 2,700 liters of water is used to make 1 ton of paper (average for the European industry).
- 1 sheet of paper requires 2 to 13 liters of water (depending on the mill).
- 93% of paper comes from trees.
- 50% of the waste of businesses is composed of paper.
Although we are currently getting most of our paper from chopping down trees, it does not have to be this way. The cellulose that comes from trees has a replacement that the trees themselves give us, fallen leaves. This is where the creative entrepreneurs behind ReLeaf Paper, based in Ukraine, come in. They’ve come up with an innovative sustainable tech solution to create paper using cellulose from leaves rather than trees.
Valentyn Frechka, Co-founder of Releaf Paper
At 16 years old Valentyn, a Ukrainian student, decided to study alternative sources of cellulose to reduce deforestation. In early 2018 after many experiments in the school lab, he finally created suitable prototypes for his concept.
” We believe that trees should grow in the forest, humanity should breathe oxygen and paper should be made of fallen leaves”
I spoke with Alexander Sobolenko, co-founder of ReLeaf, at Web Summit about the development of this technology and their approach to solving our paper needs. I’m especially impressed that they have been able to partner with city governments to repurpose leaves that are already being collected. These are leaves that would normally be discarded. Additionally, ReLeaf Paper is completely biodegradable and there are very few chemicals used in the manufacturing process. According to Sobolenko, the chemicals used “are not toxic” and amount to about “2 kilograms per 1 ton of paper.”
ReLeaf Paper produces paper with a density of 70 g / m2 to 300 g / m2 and paper bags of various sizes. To purchase our stock products in small and medium quantities visit our official online store www.releaf.com.ua.