A group of young entrepreneurs from Mexico has developed a system that converts PET bottles into mineral paper and which they claim will save up to 20 trees and 56,000 liters of water per ton of paper produced. The photodegradable, waterproof paper can be used to print books, boxes and general stationery.
"By not cutting trees, nor using water we reduce costs and help the planet," says Ever Adrian Nava, cofounder of the Cronology company, located in Ecatepec, a municipality in Mexico State, just north from Mexico City.
The Cronology process is claimed to be 15 percent cheaper than traditional paper manufacture because it doesn't use chemicals, like chlorine, or water. Although countries like Spain and Taiwan already use similar processes to manufacture mineral paper (also known as peta paper or stone paper), its developers say the Cronology system is four times cheaper than conventional methods.
The original idea for this type of paper is to reduce production costs and deforestation. Mexico currently produces 700,000 tons of paper each year, mostly for books and notebooks, but also for wrapping papers and toilet paper.
Ever Nava says that producing one ton of traditional paper has an effect on the environment for 100 years, but that mineral paper eliminates that, with 235 kg (518 lb) of pellets, or PET beads, obtained using recycled plastic bottles, calcium carbonate and stone, capable of producing a ton of the mineral paper.
"The mineral paper is stronger than the standard, you can not break it with your hands, it is waterproof, has the quality of being photodegradable and only absorbs the necessary amount of ink when printing," says Ever Nava.
Recycled plastic bottles are first crushed with various pieces of calcium carbon to form pellets (plastic beads), which are then subjected to a casting process at over a 100° C (212° F), before being rolled to form large sheets of paper.
The paper degrades in just six months, with the company saying the only downside is that ink gels can't be used on it because they contain alcohol, which the paper does not support.
The founders participated in a contest for emerging green companies that has been organized for the last five years in Mexico, in order to get financing for their company.
Source: Investigación y Desarrollo via Alpha Galileo