Say Yes to Sugarcane Waste Paper

By Mark Cheng, the campaigner behind Green Prints and the use of Sugarcane Waste paper, is also the co-founder of Avelife, one of the largest socio-environment Non-government organisations in Asia. He enjoys eco-travelling and tree-hugging.

Ever wonder what happens to those sugarcane fibers after your sugarcane juice is extracted?

In sugar-producing countries like India, Vietnam and Latin America sugarcane fibers, also known as bagasse, is an agricultural waste. Once sugar is extracted, bagasse is usually burnt openly or dumped in rivers, contributing to air and water pollution. In Singapore, it is usually dumped and incinerated, just like rubbish.

In response to strict environmental enforcement of forest protection laws in India, it was discovered that bagasse makes great copier paper. With 80% bagasse and 20% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified-wood chips, it makes for a great alternative to wood sourced paper as it comes in various sizes, types, thickness (GSM) and colours. Newspaper reels is 100% bagasse.

TNPL is a government linked company in India that is largest bagasse paper mill in the world. It takes bagasse from the sugar industry in India, where 350 million tonnes of sugar is produced annually. In response to the popularity of the Sugarcane Waste paper in the United States, TNPL is now sourcing for bagasse from Vietnam and Latin America, where Brazil produces 645 million tonnes of sugar annually. As of 2008, 1.75 billion tonnes of sugar is produced annually.

TNPL markets their paper in India as “TNPL” and internationally it is marketed as “Canefields”. In Asia, you can get “Canefields” paper products including copier paper, notebooks and envelopes from Green Prints, the official distributor and supplier of “Canefields” products.

As an environmental social enterprise Green Prints aims to provide the greenest and cheapest printing solution in Singapore. We believe that going green should be affordable and accessible to everyone so we are open 24 hours a day,7 days a week.

Now, can you imagine a paper made from stone? Would stone paper be stiff and hard? Do you think panda poop paper is smelly? Would there ever be paper made from banana plant, coffee plant or even red fungus? Check out our online store and see for yourself how useful and fun environmentally friendly paper can be.

Why say YES to Sugarcane Waste Paper?

1. More waste makes more Paper.

Sugar producing countries like Brazil and India are facing issues managing their bagasse waste which contributes to air and pollution. Turning waste to an input for paper production is table turning process.

2. Reduce deforestation.

Deforestation accounts for 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions world-wide, which exceeds the pollution created by global transportation sector. Sugarcane Waste paper uses 80% less wood, conserving an estimated 60,000 acres of forest land every year.

3. Earn carbon tax rebates and LEEDS credits.

TNPL’s entire on-site production of Sugarcane Waste paper is fueled by a wind farm and a bio-gas plant, with further plans to develop solar power.

They are all Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which customers can use to claim carbon tax rebates if it is ever introduced. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has registered the mill for carbon credits worth more than 60,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

If you are using Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEEDS) now, purchasing copy paper will contribute credit toward your LEED Sustainable Purchasing Policy and Solid Waste Management Points.

4. Reward good company behavior.

TNPL performs the following practices on-site:

  • Bargasse storage produces methane rich biogas from the waste water, which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is captured and used in a lime kiln to provide power for the plant instead of traditional conventional fossil fuels.

  • Bio-sludge from the mill is used in the mini cement plant to bond with sludge and fly ash from the chemical recovery plant and power boilers to make cement.

  • Only 70 cubic metres of water is used to create each metric ton of paper which is half that of other plants and this waste water is treated and used to irrigate the farm land surrounding the mill.

  • Unused electricity from the 35 Megawatts generated annually is contributed back to the national electricity grid.

  • Farm forestry and plantation schemes help local farmers convert deserts to cultivable lands by planting sugarcane.

  • A Clonal Propagation and Research Centre (CPRC) was established which produces millions of cloned tree varieties for planting, thus reducing costs and helping local farmers earn higher returns.

5. Use a superior paper product.

  • Acid and lignin free which is great for scrap books and long term storage.

  • Uses oxygen bleaching, instead of elemental chlorine bleaching, using 75% less water and creates less dioxins.

  • Absorbs 40% more ink as compared with other paper, which means less ink is needed for printing.

  • Can be used in conventional paper recycling.

6. Accreditations and endorsements.

  • ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 guarantees that paper quality is ideal.

  • Singapore Green Label and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

  • Endorsements from World Wildlife Fund (WWF), United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Program, Friends of the Earth in Australia and the National Environment Agency(NEA) in Singapore.

7. An excellent alternative to other “environmentally” friendly paper.

Recycled paper requires more water to produce and after several rounds of recycling, the pulp loses structural integrity requiring the use of fresh wood chips.

Sustainable farm paper should be certified by the FSC or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). If there are no such certifications, then the paper may not be suitable sustainable.

The Forests of India and the birth of Sugarcane Waste Paper

    1952 – India’s Ministry of the Environment and Forests creates the National Forest Policy.
    1988 – In response to large scale deforestation, the National Forest Policy was updated. However enforcement is lacking.
    1997 – With India’s signing of the Kyoto protocol in December, enforcement becomes a top priority. In response to the need to find alternative paper sources, Sugarcane Waste paper was discovered.

The National Forest Policy aims to maintain the environmental stability, preserve the national biodiversity and meet the requirements of rural and tribal communities that live off the forest. The strategy outlined requires 33% to 66% of India to be covered by forest. This would be done by reforesting unused or degraded land, including roadsides and communal areas and retooling land laws to encourage individual planting. Access to forests would be strongly controlled by government bodies that follow proper conservation practices. In addition, mandated standards for forestry based professionals would be required and there needs to be investment into related public research and education backed with sufficient financial support.