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Around 4 billions tress are cut down annually to create various paper products. This accounts for nearly 40 percent of deforestation around the globe. Kevin Garcia and Jon Tse, two entrepreneurs from Australia were resolved to minimized this tragic impact upon the Earth. “What if we re-engineer how paper is made that’s more in line with our environmental responsibility?” asked Garcia. For an entire year, they steadily searched for an alternative sustainable material for making paper, when they came upon a Taiwanese company producing paper out of stone.
In the summer of 2017, Karst Stone Paper was started. Using stone waste extracted from construction site and industrial waste dumps, the company is able to produce paper without the use of water, harsh chemicals and most importantly timber.
“If you look at the whole process of how paper is traditionally made, it involves chopping trees, adding chemicals and bleach to make pulp, using lots of water and then squeezing, drying and flattening it into sheets of paper,” said Garcia. “It’s labor intensive, contributes to high carbon emission deforestation.”
Karst’s stone paper is currently predicted to save over 500 large timber tress from deforestation, 22,000 gallons of water from being wasted, and 55,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted in 2019. “We collect discarded limestone from wherever we can find it, wash it, and ground it into fine powder,” he said. The powder is then blended with a photodegradable high-density polyethylene resin, which means it can decompose over time with exposure to sunlight, leaving behind calcium carbonate. The 90% calcium 10% resin mixture is then pressed into small pellets, heated up and pushed through large rollers that flatten them into sheets of paper. “The paper can be as thin as notebook paper or as thick as a cardboard paper,” said Garcia.
Acording to Garcia, the amount of carbon emitted during this process is “about 67% less than making paper from tree pulp.” Not only is the product sustainable and recyclable, but as a result of it being made of stone it’s more resistant to tears and waterproof.
Karst’s planners start at $40 with their notebooks ranging from $10 for smaller ones to $25 for larger books. Their products are mainly sold online on the company’s website, but they can also be found in nearly 100 stores throughout the UK, US and Australia.
In addition the commercial sales, Krast has also made a couple corporate sales too. WeWork, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Facebook have begun ordering their notebooks for gifts for new employees and events. The company hopes to get their notebooks into 1,00o stores by the end of 2019. In order to scale up their business and achieve this goal, Garcia and Tse are beginning to approach investors for the first time.
When the duo first first heard about the Taiwanese company making paper out of stone, they decided to start up their business with $30,000 of their own savings. “We put 99% of it into developing product and a website,” said Garcia. With an extremely limited market budget, the pair turned to facebook for advertisement. “Our initial video reached over 10 million views on Facebook in a few months,” said Garcia. In their first cycle of production, the company only made around 5,000 notebooks. Fast forward 2 years and the company has sold 70,000 notebooks in over 80 countries.
According to Victoria Villier, a sales associate who overseas inventory for McNally Jackson stationery store in New York City,”They’ve been selling well for us.” Villier said customers are usually seeking out more eco-friendly options in her store, as environmental impact becomes more of a concern for consumers. “They like Karst notebooks for that reason. Plus, they are waterproof and look beautiful,” she said. Although the company is still in is infancy and the product is still very niche, the duo are currently working towards broadening the products to other areas of the paper market, like cards, ink-jet paper, reams and labels. “This is about much more than just selling something,” said Tse. “We want Stone Paper to be a mainstream, sustainable alternative to an everyday product.We want it to have an impact.”
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