We have made the first step. Since it was founded five years ago, PaperWise has given over nine million kilos of agricultural waste a second life as paper and board for packaging. That was only the beginning. As of 2020, the company will join forces with other parties within Europe to render the production process for creating paper pulp from agricultural waste 100% sustainable. In other words, with no negative effects for people or the environment.
PaperWise is changing the paper industry in a revolutionary way at a rapid pace. For its raw material, the company uses the stems and leaves of plants that are left on the fields after harvesting. Currently, this agricultural waste is burned resulting in a number of detrimental effects to the environment. ‘When children in schools learn that paper is made from agricultural waste, then we will have achieved our goal. That will be when we know that we have definitively changed the paper industry,’ explains founder Peter van Rosmalen, referring to PaperWise’s sustainable mission.
New, sustainable technology
After five years of pioneering work, PaperWise is ready for the next phase. To increase the benefits for the environment many times over, our organization is combining the knowledge of scientists, experts, and leading innovative companies from across the world. Our goal is to develop a new, sustainable technology to transform agricultural waste into paper pulp. ‘At the moment, it is a chemical process that has an impact on the environment. We aim to ensure this process is environmentally neutral,’ explains co-founder Nick op den Buijsch.
Flipping the switch
In the last five years, PaperWise has developed into the market leader in Europe for making paper and board out of agricultural waste. The company has over 1,500 clients in 19 countries, including Tony’s Chocolonely, Pukka, Heineken, Lufthansa, Landal GreenParks, Rabobank, and many others. It was founded as a social enterprise and ensures that people, the planet, and the economy are taken into account for every decision. As an example, this means that farmers in India and South America (where the agricultural waste is sourced from) also benefit from the company’s success. ‘We have to flip the mental switch,’ state Van Rosmalen and Op den Buijsch. ‘Our planet is under far too much stress. The ecosystem is out of balance, raw materials are running out, and over three billion people the world over are living below the poverty line. That is just unacceptable to us.’
By transforming plants into high-quality paper and board, PaperWise has ensured that 26,500 trees less were felled in the past five years. In total, that represents 25,5 square kilometres of forest that was spared. To put that in perspective, that area is equal to a city the size of Worcester or 3,600 football fields.
The necessity of growth
Earning money is not a goal, it is a requirement. Nick op den Buijsch explains, ‘It may sound strange, but sustainable companies can only consider themselves future-proof if they do not need subsidies to turn a profit. Company growth is necessary to finance such innovations and to achieve our dream. We would like to contribute to a world in which there is no such thing as “waste” because all residues are the raw materials for new products. To get to that stage, we have to get as many people and organizations as possible on board. We can only change the paper industry if we work together. Together, we can be Wise With Waste.’