Is Vellum an Eco-Friendly Choice?
In a recent installment of Going Green Digest for Lexington, Kentucky-based WhatTheyThink, editor Gail Nickel Kailing responded to a reader wondering if paper vellums are inherently environmentally unfriendly. She sought assistance from Sabine Lenz, founder of PaperSpecs, Palo Alto, Calif., for the answer. Here is her response:
“Transparent papers—or vellums—are basically made from the same fibers as opaque sheets. In the case of translucents, the fibers are more fibrillated, creating a net of fiber that is more loosely bonded than your average paper fiber. Also, no fillers are added, which the paper needs to become opaque. In the naturally translucent sheets, the air pockets in the paper are pressed out, and what remains is a very tightly packed web of cellulose fibers. The papers are as easily recyclable as any other paper and some are FSC-certified or contain recycled fiber.
Having said this, there are also translucent sheets that are chemically transparentized. This means that they are first manufactured as opaque papers and then treated with petrol-chemically-based resins to make the paper translucent.
How can you tell the difference? Most mills call out if their paper is naturally transparent and recyclable. But, another way to tell one from the other is by looking at the product items being offered. Chemically transparentized sheets are more brittle and do not fold without cracking. So, they are not recommended for folding and saddle stitching.
Most, but not all, of the transparent papers available in the U.S. market are naturally transparent and thus more friendly to the environment.”
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