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The Science Behind “Same Paper, Half the Tree”

Our Align family of papers is made with up to 50% less wood fiber than competing papers. But how is this possible?

The short answer: thermo-mechanical pulping, or TMP.

Traditional offset paper, also known as freesheet, is made from kraft pulp. Kraft pulp is made through a chemical pulping process that extracts the wood fibers using a chemical and water solution. What’s left after pulping is called cellulose – and it represents only about 45% of the original wood. Where did the rest of the tree go? The discarded portion is called lignin. Lignin is an organic polymer, or “glue,” that holds the wood fibers together.

The TMP process we use to make Align papers works differently. Wood fibers are ground down using a combination of mechanical grinding and heat. The lignin is kept in the pulp along with the cellulose, and about 90% of the original wood is retained in the process. Keeping the lignin in the pulp means thermo-mechanical pulp or TMP-based papers can be produced using only 50% of the wood content of uncoated freesheet. There are two added bonuses to keeping the lignin in the pulp: higher opacity and greater bulk, two attributes important in paper quality. Then, there’s the reduced impact on the environment: the TMP process means a much smaller carbon footprint than you’d see with a traditional sheet.

Each year, Resolute makes 4.8 million tons of paper using the TMP process. The result is a high brightness, eco-efficient and economical paper.

Interested in learning more? Check out these books:

Smook, Gary A. Handbook for Pulp & Paper Technologists. Vancouver; Angus Wilde Publications, 1992.

Scott, William E., Abbott, James C., & Trossett, Stanley. Properties of Paper: An Introduction. Atlanta; TAPPI Press.

Or visit www.alignpaper.com.

 

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