15 Jan The Mohawk Renewal Story
Spicers Paper is committed to providing ethically sourced options to our are clients who are keeping sustainability top of mind as part of their 2021 business goals. Mohawk Renewal marries well with our commitment and expands the definition of sustainable papermaking.
With the introduction of Mohawk Renewal, Mohawk Paper has written an important, new chapter in the environmental sustainability story. By introducing legacy fibers like hemp, straw, and cotton textiles, Mohawk Paper is looking to the past to define a more sustainable future.
Read on to learn how Mohawk Paper carefully selected fiber sources for this environmentally responsible product line.
Hemp fibers were long used across American industry to manufacture fabric, rope, and paper until they were outlawed in the 1930s. Now, with PureHemp Technology, a small research company in Fort Lupton, Colorado, has created a low-carbon, green process to turn hemp stalks into pulp for making a wide variety of papers. With PureHemp’s process being used to manufacture hemp-derived products like pulp, papers like Mohawk Renewal join the CBD and legal marijuana industries, driving demand for this rapidly renewable agricultural crop.
Unlike trees, which take 7 to 35 years to mature, hemp grows rapidly, maturing in as few as 90 days. Turning it into pulp requires less chemicals, water, and energy than wood, and it can be used to make a vast array of paper types, from greeting cards to label paper, cardstock, and packaging.
Until recently, hemp stalks were never used as raw materials; they were simply tilled under in the fields. Now, this sturdy fiber is being repurposed to make paper, which is a benefit to the environment on every level. Since hemp can be raised nearly anywhere, refineries using this process can be set up across the country. Working with Mohawk has helped prove the viability of hemp fiber for pulp while fostering a new supply chain. It’s a massive opportunity to make a meaningful environmental impact.
Reuse: Recycled Cotton
For centuries, cotton textile waste was recycled to make paper. Today, there is more textile waste than ever. Strong, yet soft, these cotton fibers make beautiful paper. Mohawk Renewal Recycled Cotton uses two sources for its cotton fiber: white t-shirt trim and blue denim thread.
Four generations after Cheney Pulp and Paper Company opened in Franklin, Ohio, the mill is still making pulp out of cotton rag—now with original owner Howard Cheney’s great-grandson Mark Snyder at the helm.
The company’s work is newly relevant thanks to a manufacturing partnership with Mohawk. Recycled cotton pulp from Cheney is used to make Mohawk Renewal T-Shirt White and Denim papers, giving cotton textile waste a second life. Made from t-shirt and denim scrap diverted from the millions of pounds of textile waste sent to landfills every year, these pulps remain unbleached and require no dye in the papermaking process.
Textile scrap material arrives in 1,000 pound bales of tiny clippings, which staffers sort by hand to weed out synthetics and ensure everything used is 100 percent cotton.
Then, using a combination of heat, water, and time, those scraps are transformed into pulp for paper. Making this sustainable pulp for the new Mohawk Renewal range of papers takes pressure off landfills while bolstering American industry.
Straw is a byproduct of wheat farming. Every year, after the wheat harvest, thousands of acres of straw are either burned off or plowed under. Now, that straw is being reclaimed for paper pulp.
Among the golden fields of grain in Eastern Washington, the largest wheat harvest in North America, a new company is bringing green industry to this pastoral landscape. Columbia Pulp, based in Dayton, WA, the first new pulp mill in the U.S. in decades, has pioneered a cutting-edge, sustainable process, developed by researchers at the University of Washington, that extracts pulp for paper from humble wheat straw.
Columbia Pulp contracts with farmers across the region, spending $13 million annually on straw. Unlike wood, straw doesn’t need to be pressurized to transform into pulp, saving enormous amounts of energy. The new process is more environmentally friendly than comparable methods, requiring 25 percent less water and 70 percent less energy. It also eliminates the need for the annual “fall burns” farmers set to clear straw from their fields, when four to five million acres are set ablaze, creating acrid smoke and carbon emissions.
Straw pulp creates paper products with a slightly yellow hue, which can be turned into a wide variety of products. There’s plenty of room for growth—the nation boasts 10 times as much biomass from farming operations, like straw, than it does from trees. Using straw as raw material for paper means less trees felled for paper, fewer damaging fires in Eastern Washington, and economic growth in rural communities. This sustainable product eases environmental impact and, you might say, spins straw into gold
With Mohawk Renewal, you have confidence knowing you support a sustainable initiative in the circular economy. Spicers Paper has invested in ample inventory in all of our distribution centers, so you have access to what you want, when you need it.