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Is there any paper making alternative? What is there in trees that makes it the only thing from which paper can be made? Do we even need paper anymore with all electronic devices and stylus', etc

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Paper mostly consists of cellulose, form which wood is a good source. Another interesting source is the hemp plant and it seems that hemp was indeed the major source in paper manufacturing up to the 19th century.

Nowadays, recycling of paper probably is the most reasonable way to reduce the wood use.

Do we even need paper anymore with all electronic devices and stylus'

Yes, for different reasons:

  • Think in how long old books and handwritings have lasted. Compare that with the durability of magnetic (tapes, hard disks) or optical recordings (CD, DVD, Bluray, etc.)
  • Supposed that the ability to read doesn't get lost and a document is written in a well-defined alphabet, you do not need any additional technology to access the information. Who can read data from a 9 track tape nowadays (the technology is only fifty years old) or an "old" MFM hard drive? 8" or 5.25" floppy disks, anyone? ZipDrives, supposed they survived the "click-od-death"?

  • Most people do not use electronic signatures for documents. Papers are signed, sealed, etc. Consequently, written contracts, bills, etc. are considered more forge-proof than electronic documents. Storing them is therefore mandatory in business.

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  • $\begingroup$ "" that hemp was indeed the major source in paper manufacturing up to the 19th century"" No, not at all. Before groundwood pulp and chemical wood pulp were invented, paper was made from cotton and linen rags. That was the basis for the "Lumpensammler"-trade :=) High value papers (money etc) are still made from rags and cotton linters.Hemp with its long and very coarse fibers was outside 19th century technology for papermaking. A lot of green propaganda nonsense is told about hemp today, I guess to facilitate access to cannabis. $\endgroup$ – Georg Mar 19 '15 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ I forgot: just before the great oil crisis in 1978 3M invented synthetical pulp (microscopic PP fibers from a proces without spinning) When I started to work in a pulp company in 1978 they were just recovering from that threat :=) $\endgroup$ – Georg Mar 19 '15 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ Another thing I forgot: textile fibers and hemp were and are much too expensive to produce standard paper. $\endgroup$ – Georg Mar 19 '15 at 21:16

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