Kenaf is fit to print.
Deforestation is occuring at an alarming rate. For example, USA represent 5% of the world population, yet it consumes 20% of the world’s logged wood. On average, Americans use approximately 800 pounds of paper product per person, and more than 40% of U.S. municipal solid waste is comprised of paper. Approximately 95% of America’s virgin forests have been cut, leaving only 5% in its original state.
On the other hand, Kenaf yields 6 to 10 tons of dry fiber per acre per year.
How To Use KENAF
Bill Loftus discovers a versatile, hardy, edible plant that could help solve hunger in impoverished nations.
After all, wood wasn’t always the material of choice for magazines and Post-It notes. Many items have been used, like animal skins. But the paper industry is so dependent on the mighty tree.
Hopefully, that could change. A cadre of visionaries has plugged Kenaf since the 60s, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture picked the species of hibiscus as the worthiest of 500 tree-free alternatives.
Firms from Warner Brothers to Kinko’s have sinced used it in catalogues and copy machines; environmentalist David Brower printed his 2000 book Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run on it; and the U.S. firm Vision Paper has sold it to 2,500 clients since 1992.
But milling is erratic and expensive, and ordinary paper is so available that kenaf hasn’t captured the collective imagination.
The potential is easy to see. The crop grows in 5 months – 15 years for a Southern pine – and makes more paper than the same land planted in trees.
Environmental benefits are big too; no chlorine bleach is needed.
Some say if mills were built or revamped, kenaf could replace paper at no extra cost.
I’d like, 10 or 20 years from now, history teachers say in class, “we used to cut down our trees to make toilet paper!”