Thursday, August 13, 2009

TerraSkin: Paper Made From Stone

Here is an exciting new material for designers of packaging and print - a paper-like material made from rocks. The treeless new product from Taiwan requires little energy to produce and it's recyclable and degradable.

Bag options at the grocery store have been paper, plastic, or cloth. There may be another alternative soon: stone. Shopping bags and boxes from gift stores at New York's Museum of Modern Art, bags from personal-care company Erno Laszlo, and packaging of consumer products from Burt's Bees look, feel, and fold like paper, but they're made of crushed stone.

The treeless paper, manufactured in Taiwan and sold under the TerraSkin brand, is three parts recycled calcium carbonate (the same mineral in marble and limestone) and one part polyethylene binder. Making this "paper" requires no water or bleach and only half the energy needed to make traditional paper. The material is durable; tote bags can be used over and over. It is also recyclable. And TerraSkin breaks down into a talcum-like powder if exposed to sunlight and humidity long enough.

Although the raw materials to make TerraSkin are cheap, at first with low sales volumes the manufacturer has to make it in small batches so it costs more right now. As a result, it typically wholesales for about 8% more than packaging paper. That will quickly change.

Click on the heading above to see a video about TerraSkin.

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