Institutions in four countries are cooperating on a four-year research project to establish an online watermark data bank, combined with the publication of watermark illustrations on CD-ROM, according to the interim report of Peter F. Tschudin, president of the International Association of Paper Historians. This is one of several watermark projects that have begun or made progress lately, described in the Association's journal International Paper History, vol. 5 #2, 1995.
Another project, supported by the German National Library in Leipzig, is a planned second edition of the standard for the recording of watermark papers, supplemented by an illustrated section. And a similar project in Switzerland involves the direct recording and filing of watermarks by way of EDP.
A Canadian project to determine the impact of lignin on paper permanence is being carried out by the CCI (Canadian Conservation Institute) and Paprican (Pulp & Paper Research Institute of Canada). The Canadian General Standards Board expects to use the results of the project to help determine requirements for Canadian permanent paper standards.
Progress reports from the two research institutions were sent a few months ago to members of the Permanent Paper Project Alliance, which probably includes supporting organizations in addition to research and testing labs. CCI reported that testing and accelerated aging of samples had begun.
CCI has made encouraging progress in measuring the degree of polymerization of lignin-containing samples. As of last June, the procedure decided on was to delignify the sample, then treat it with borohydride to stabilize the cellulose, then dissolve the cellulose in cadoxen. Sixty percent of the cellulose can be dissolved by this method without degradation.
Paprican borrowed an aging oven for this project, and will also do accelerated aging with gaseous pollutants in a chamber that they have been building themselves. Staff prepared 8,700 control and experimental handsheets of TMP, BCTMP, bleached kraft and rag pulps, as well as three pulp blends; it also collected ten Canadian commercial papers of an equally wide variety, and were planning last June to characterize them in terms of their paper composition and pH.
Early in 1995, CCI sent aged handsheets to Paprican, which tested them. Paprican has also begun aging its own handsheets.
This project is not the same as the ASTM/ISR research that was outlined at a workshop in July 1994, but the two efforts are being coordinated, and some of the players are involved in both projects.
The statement of purpose for this program does not mention lignin, but its focus is very similar to that of the Canadian project on the Impact of Lignin on Paper Permanence. It is now under way, although it has raised little more than one million dollars of its four million dollar budget. According to the update at the ASTM D-6 meeting in January, three contracts that have been awarded are now complete: to make the experimental papers (13 by the Herty Foundation and two from Crane), gather commercial papers (the same kinds chosen by the CCI and Paprican for their project), and to randomize them and put them in cold storage until they are needed (Phoenix Book Bindery).
Contracts have been awarded to the Library of Congress for temperature and relative humidity aging, to be done with the help of an analytical chemist hired for the purpose; to the Forest Products Lab, for natural and accelerated aging studies with light; and to the Image Permanence Institute for atmospheric studies with SO2, NOx and O3, individually and in combination. Other studies will be added when the money is found for them; fundraising continues.
Not only has the price of waste paper risen so high that it is being stolen from the curbside, but the recycled paper made from it has become so expensive that publishers and printers are going back to virgin fiber products, according to a news item in the December Papermaker (p. 9). The environmentally-conscious Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, has gone back to virgin paper for five of its eight publications, though it plans to return to recycled paper as soon as it can. Time Inc. has postponed the conversion of all its publications to recycled paper, and other publishers are taking similar measures. Recycled paper prices are expected to remain high in 1996, according to the Magazine Publishers of America.
This does not mean that virgin paper is cheap. Pulp prices have doubled in the last two years, and paper prices rose more than 40% in 1995. Magazine and catalog publishers are sending out less material, using thinner paper, and even reducing staff.
Recycled paper prices are driven in part by production costs at the mill. A deinked market pulp mill spends about $735/metric ton for production, 59% of which is the cost of the fiber. Comparable cost figures for a kraft pulp mill producing virgin fiber would be about half that.
In December, Cross Pointe Paper Corp. closed down its uncoated free sheet mill in Dayton, Ohio, which was owned for many years by the Howard Paper Co. The mill made alkaline bond, text and cover papers. In view of the increased price of pulp and the declining demand for text and cover papers, Cross Pointe management felt the decision made sense. Papers formerly made there will be shifted to Cross Pointe's other two mills.
Four acid and two alkaline fine paper mills have met the specifications of ISO 9000 quality standards. Gilbert Paper, a Mead Company, with its mill in Menasha, Wisconsin, chose to qualify under the most demanding, ISO 9001. It makes acid paper.
Three other mills, all acid, registered under ISO 9002: the two Simpson Paper Company mills in Vicksburg, Michigan, and Gilman, Vermont; and Gilman Paper Company in St. Mary's, Georgia.
The two alkaline mills that registered under 9002 are Simpson Plainwell Paper Company in Plainwell, Michigan, and Weyerhaeuser's mill in Longview, Washington.
The Paper Task Force is a group of large companies with a paper purchasing power of $2 billion, organized by the Environmental Defense Fund to help organizations reduce paper use; recycle paper and buy recycled paper; buy paper from suppliers using "environmentally preferable" forest management practices; and buy paper from suppliers practicing "environmentally preferable" manufacturing. Members of the Paper Task Force included Time, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, The Prudential, and Duke University.
Their Guidelines, issued in December, made a favorable impression on Alan Rooks, editor of PIMA Magazine, who commented in the January issue that they appear to be based on detailed research and a sophisticated understanding of the paper industry. Specifically, they approve of AF&PA's Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and encourage patronage of "minimum impact mills" that use either ECF or TCF bleaching, oxygen delignification/extended delignification, and reduction or elimination of process water discharge. Greenpeace has criticized the Paper Task Force, because its Guidelines permit ECF (elemental chlorine free) bleaching.
The Task Force also consistently favors production of unbleached and mechanical pulp over lignin-free pulp, apparently because it saves trees. The editorial in PIMA Magazine does not mention any other tree-saving measures, such as the use of annual crops like kenaf.
To order the Paper Task Force's main report, project synopsis, or technical supplement, contact EDF at 212/505-2100.
The German Paper Historians will meet in Netstal, Switzerland this October, and have chosen for their conference the theme of 20th century papermaking history. The Swiss Paper Historians will meet near Lucerne in September, and will exchange and gather information on the same topic.
[This is a topic that needs attention, while the documents and other sources are still available. In the United States, no organized group is known to be giving attention to modern papermaking history. -Ed.]