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Re: Re: RE: E-M:/ Deforestation,Dioxin,andNoCommercialLogging!-Reply -Reply -Rep -Reply

Enviro-Mich message from "DAVE MERKEL" <48MERDAV@menasha.com>


I will not disagree with your numbers on use of alternate fibers such as hemp, bagasse, kenaf, etc. From a broad brush standpoint more use of alternative fibers I believe is economically and environmentally positive and feasible. Menasha is again looking into the availability and cost structures of kenaf, since it is particularly suited from a strength standpoint for our type of paper. Our last research showed us that it was technically feasible, but not economically possible or available from a supply standpoint (this was in ca. 1996). I can tell you that there is not enough out there of any of these alternative materials to fiber all of the mills in the US. In addition, there is not enough available farm land, fallow land or otherwise (without some unwanted deforestation or large scale new water infrastructure development) to grow the amount of alternate fiber needed to fiber all of the mills. Our farmland is shrinking, not growing. In addition, I am not technically sure that the alternate fibers you suggest are appropriate for all types of paper. Not all fibers are created equal. I believe the jury is still out that not another tree would ever have to be cut.

Your figure of 40% for wastage from a recycled ton of paper are incorrect. In our segment of the industry, corrugating medium, the yield on a ton of old corrugated containers is 85 - 87 % or higher. So, for every ton of paper that comes back to us to be recycled, 13 - 15% or less goes either back to landfill or into other products, or processes such as composting, alternate fuels etc. It would not be economically possible to have those kind of waste numbers.  There is a lot of research going on right now on how to make that current percent of wastage even smaller. No company in their right mind would want the level of wastage you indicated. Those that would want it would be closing their doors very quickly.

The supposition that the sludge materials are all toxic is not true. I am not saying that there are not materials in some sludges that are undesirable. All materials in the world, if given a great enough quantity of them, are toxic in some form to something (paraphrased from Paracelsus 1493 - 1541:  "All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy"). Water is toxic to humans in great enough quantity, just as air is toxic to fish in the wrong form. There is only a relatively short list of truly toxic things out there simply toxic in all forms to life, and most of these are now thankfully regulated (dioxins, DDT, PCB's etc.). In low concentrations, most metals for example are not an issue at all, and occur naturally in trees for example (copper, lead, zinc, etc). I am not saying that these things should not be regulated, of course they should and must, but all things regulated must be done wisely and intelligently. For example, we are very close to receiving our designation of inertness on our sludge, which undergoes very rigorous review by the State of Michigan, and includes such things as drinking water standards, leaching studies, metals testing, organics testing, etc.  I can tell you that the State does not hand these DOI's out any too lightly, and are skeptical right up front. You must prove your case so that they are sure you will not pollute or cause harm to people or ecosystems, and the process takes time, money and lots of patience. They do a very thorough and complete job, believe me, and should be complimented on their diligence by the public.

Your comment on the US being the largest pulp and paper producer is true. I am not sure what you were getting at there, but I can say that once the other nations of the world reach our level of  "sophistication and development" (one of a number of ways of saying it), you will see paper production per capita every bit the US's equal. The pacific rim nations are building large numbers of paper machines (mostly virgin production). South America is booming in paper trade, once again all virgin. The populations and level of industrialization of those nations is increasing drastically. The difference is, many of those nations do not have the timber supply we have, and there is not much yet in the way of environmental pressure there, so look out, those nations are hungry for our lifestyles wether we like it or agree with it or not. It remains to be seen if they will learn from the industrialized nations mistakes, or be doomed to relive them.

Another issue to remember is that, unless we want to completely change our lifestyles (certainly an option), the need for packaging is not going to go away. Goods will still need to be packaged. Food will still need to be shipped. There are new alternatives being thought of and utilized all the time. Of all the alternatives, there is only one totally recyclable and renewable resource to create that packaging from, and that is trees (or cellulose fibers such as you suggested). 

I hope this helps to put out a few more stats and ideas on this continuing interesting discourse. I sincerely want to say again thanks for the opportunity to dialogue with you all on this Listserv.

David Merkel
Technical Manager
Paperboard Division
Menasha Corporation
Otsego, MI

~please note the above comments are my ideas and opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of the Paperboard Division, Menasha Corporation~

>>> <Murphwild1@aol.com> 07/21/99 03:59pm >>>

To the Michigan Pulp and Paper industry reading these messages:

Recycled paper is made either from recycled virgin tree fibers (pre-consumer 
waste) or mixed with recycled tree-fibers from post consumer waste. There is 
one exception and that is 100% recycled post-consumer waste from wood fiber 
paper which is collected as newspapers and other printed material. THEREFORE, 
still trees were cut to make recycled papers.

In general, fibers are separated from the other materials when  paper is 
recycled. The leftover "sludge" contains unwanted toxic residues such as 
pigments, heavy metals (colours) and other ingredients from printing inks and 
adhesives. It is estimated that 100 tons of recycled paper generate 40 tons 
of toxic sludge causing major disposal problems. Finally, the quality of a 
recycled paper tends to be less desirable due to shorte fibers and other 

Currently, only about 5% of the worlds paper is made from annual plants like 
hemp, flax, cotton, sugarcane, bagasse,  esparto, wheat straw, reeds, sisal, 
abaca, ananas and other species.

North America is the largest producer of pulp and paper in the world. 

There is no reason to cut down one single tree, or continued conversion of 
our public, private and corporate forests for any paper products. 

Murray Daiely

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