Sustainable Development and Color Reproduction Study of Tree-Free Paper


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Yu-Ju Wu, John Craft and Susan Doll


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According to the Professional Association for Design (AIGA), paper manufacturing is responsible for the third-largest consumption of fossil fuels worldwide and the single-largest industrial use of water per pound of finished products. Awareness of these sustainability issues, paper manufacturers are making efforts to explore alternative fibers to provide paper choices for consumers, the starting point for the life cycle of print. This new generation of paper is being produced from plant fiber or mineral powder to provide tree-free alternatives. Plant-fiber paper usually requires fewer chemicals, takes less energy to process, and also tends to have higher potential in relation to bio-refineries. Mineral-based paper requires no chemical bleaching, uses much less water during processing, and when disposed it degrades back to the base component of mineral powder. This paper studied the color reproduction capability and process capability of four commercial available types of tree-free paper (20# sugarcane, 22# sugarcane, cotton, and stone) in terms of optical density and color gamut. All four paper types were tested using an inkjet printer, and the sugarcane and wood-based papers were also tested using a laser printer. It was found that, with the laser printer, 20# sugarcane copy paper was competitive with wood-based copy paper in terms of color reproduction capability, and was capable of producing consistent color gamut. When printed with the inkjet printer, the two sugarcane copy papers yielded lower optical densities and a smaller gamut volume than the wood-based copy paper, but were more capable of producing more consistent optical densities and color gamut than  wood-based copy paper. The stone paper and cotton paper worked well with the inkjet printer but tended to have larger color reproduction variability.

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