AICCM Conference Proceedings, Launceston, Tasmania, 1990 [on] Permanent Paper. Sponsored by Associated Pulp and Paper Mills. Published as the Association's Bulletin #4, 1990. The Australian Institute for Conservation of Cultural Material (Inc.) can be reached at GPO Box 1638, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. The seven papers in this little volume of the proceedings represent about a fourth of the papers given at the AICCM's annual conference:
Trees and Paper: Can We have Both? - Bob Brown
Permanent Paper: To Be or Not to Be? - Jan Lyall
Permanent Papers--From Then to When? - Alex W. McKenzie
Paper and the Book Publishing Industry - Dan Sprod
Technical Aspects of Paper Production/Finishing and Converting Processes/Paper Recycling/Archival Paper Production - Ken Maddern
Examination and Identification of Counterfeit Paper - J Colley
What Price Permanence? Why Australia uses so Little Permanent Paper - Coral Mary Ware
Alex McKenzie works in the CSIRO Division of Forestry and Forest Products. His paper is a good history of paper permanence, and includes facts and judgements that are hard to find in the literature. Excerpts: "Between 1790 and 1930, hypochlorites were effectively the only bleaching agents used. Chlorine bleaching was introduced about 1930, with chlorine dioxide and peroxide appearing between 1940 and 1950 and oxygen even later.... Overall, in assessing the influence of lignin on permanence, there are several significant gaps in our knowledge. We know little about the permanence of lignified fibers in an alkaline paper, about the behavioral differences between hardwood and softwood lignin, about the differences in the properties of residual lignin after pulping using different processes, or about the effect of residual lignin after processes like peroxide bleaching which decolorize lignin but do not remove it.... Unfortunately, there is not sufficient information available to allow us to decide where to draw the line between "chemical" and "mechanical" pulps--or even whether one should distinguish between the two at all.... Barrow found that of the three groundwood-containing papers from the 1880s, one was the weakest, one was in the middle of the range and one was the strongest. The two groundwood-containing papers from the 1890s were ranked in the top four of the decade in terms of strength.... Clearly, there is more work to be done before we can be completely sure that our 'permanent' papers will be really permanent."
"Novel Techniques for Enhancing the Strength of Secondary Fiber," by Ganapati R. Bhat et al., Tappi Journal, Sept. 1991, p. 151-157. Techniques identified are repulping under alkaline conditions, refining, high-shear-field treatment, and use of enzymes to increase freeness.
"Paper Versus Polystyrene: A Complex Choice," by Martin B. Hocking, Science, vol. 251, p. 504-505. This paper was summarized in the July issue of APA, but will be reviewed again here as background to the Franklin Institute studies described below. The author, an associate professor of chemistry, presents his own detailed and technical analysis of the environmental implications of choosing a paper versus a plastic drinking cup. Without such an analysis, he says, many environmentally appropriate choices of products cannot be made. He takes into account the raw material, energy used in manufacture, which components of the material can be recycled, relative weights of the materials in the different products, environmental effect of the blowing agent for polystyrene, production of leachate in landfill, and so on. Conclusions: 1) When you consider the life cycle of a product from resource utilization to final disposal, the analysis is complex; 2) For single-use applications, it would appear that polystyrene foam cups should be given a much more evenhanded assessment regarding their environmental impact relative to paper cups than they have received during the last few years.
"The Green Police," by Hannah Holmes, Garbage, Sept./Oct. 1991, p. 44, 46-50. This is about the Green Cross, the Green Seal and other stamps of approval used on recycled products, and how difficult and expensive it is for the certifying organization to do the life cycle analyses (LCAs) necessary before a product is endorsed. LCAs can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even then there are questions they can't answer.
In a sidebar entitled "Science for Sale," an example of "public-relations foolery" by the Council for Solid Waste Solutions (CSWS) is described. The CSWS, which is funded by the plastics industry, hired Franklin Associates to do a Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis on fast food containers and grocery bags. For the fast food containers, polystyrene and bleached paperboard were compared, while for the bags, it was polyethylene vs. brown paper. The "environmental impacts" of each material were given in terms of energy consumed (in manufacture, apparently) and amount of waste generated (in manufacture, use and decay, apparently)--nothing else. No sources were cited for the information presented. The results were favorable to plastics. The CSWS then announced to the media and to politicians that their "independent research" had shown that both plastic products examined "compare favorably with paper sacks in total energy use and overall environmental impact." This announcement was uncritically reproduced by other organizations. Since reports like this are cheap to turn out and expensive to refute, and have more credibility with the public than the usual baseless claims, we can expect to see more of them in the future. The magazine's editors say that researchers are motivated by this situation to come to an agreement on how LCA is conducted, and how it can be used. The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) held a conference on LCA methodology in August (of 1990, presumably) and are continuing to work on the problem.