Synthetic Paper, Environment's Freind or Foe
Synthetic paper. A bit of an enigma, and a looming possibility for publishers to consider. But a clear view of this curious material often is clouded with skepticism of its potential for use.
In the May/June 2004 issue of BookTech Magazine, the article "The 'Virtually Indestructible' Book" made some waves among readers. The article delved into the deep synthetic-paper abyss, exploring some book projects that have opted or could opt for synthetic paper over "real" paper, such as cookbooks, lifeguarding manuals, boating books, maps, gardening books, emergency preparedness guides, children's books and especially bathtub books. Any book that needs to be durable and possibly waterproof—'virtually indestructible,' as Greg Wittstock, president of Aquascapes Inc., described his four-color instruction manual, the "Pond Builder's Bible"—might be a prime candidate for synthetics.
Once the article ran, questions began coming in regarding this non-paper paper. Even the editors were a bit surprised at the level of interest expressed by the readers. One question was definitely predominant. While the article answered many questions about synthetic paper's durability, coatings, any special ink requirements, speed on press, and manufacturers, there was no mention of synthetic paper's environmental friendliness, largely because this information was difficult to track down in time for inclusion in the article.
However, BookTech Magazine staff was since able to elicit some answers from Yupo Corp., one of the largest producers of synthetic paper.
Dave Jeffers, technical services manager for synthetic-paper manufacturer Yupo Corp., shared his expertise on the subject of synthetic paper's environmental friendliness, which he says has been a topic of ongoing research at Yupo.
No Trees Were Harmed in the Making of This 'Paper'
According to Jeffers, "Synthetic papers are typically made from different types of plastic, like polyolefin resin or polypropylene. Because synthetic paper is entirely inorganic, no trees are utilized in the manufacturing process."