It’s no shocker that I’ve been focused on the Noted @ *Noted Product Awards for the last few weeks — there’s nothing like helping to repurpose an industry event to keep you busy — but in doing so, I’ve neglected a MAJOR announcement from Mohawk Fine Papers that dropped, fittingly, on April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Alternative Fiber Papermaking has undergone an earth-shaking paradigm shift with the company’s Renewal Portfolio, consisting of papers made of hemp, straw and recycled fiber. Mohawk’s engineers have devised a process that allows the mill to create the same quality of high-performance sheets Mohawk is known for, but with rapidly renewable resources.
The range sprung from a desire to redefine the contours of fiber sourcing by rediscovering legacy materials like hemp, straw, and cotton rag—in essence, looking to the papermaking methods of the past to chart a more sustainable future. The fibers Mohawk selected are all annual crops, which regenerate in a year or less. By using scraps that would’ve otherwise been disposed of, they’re reducing waste and pollution while creating something beautiful and useful.
“The introduction of Mohawk Renewal represents a new chapter in our environmental story,” said Chris Harrold, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Mohawk. “We see this as a journey of a thousand steps, and with each step, we make progress toward a more sustainable future.”
This is only the latest endeavor on Mohawk’s part to lead the way in responsible papermaking and energy use. Mohawk was among the first to experiment with post-consumer recycled fibers in the 1990s. By the 2000s, the company had embraced responsible virgin fiber sourcing, obtained Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody certification and became first in our industry to use renewable wind power.
“Mohawk Renewal is an expression of our ongoing commitment to environmental leadership in our industry and our community,” said Melissa Stevens, Chief Revenue Officer at Mohawk. “In developing this portfolio, we have embraced new technology, new supply chains, and new uses for raw materials. We’re proud to take on the risks and challenges of being the first to bring truly sustainable fine paper to market.”
First, meet Hemp (shown above in Flower). Hemp fiber was an agricultural staple in Colonial America, used to make fabric, rope, and paper. Then it was outlawed in the 1930s. Today, depression-era laws have been rolled back, the CBD and cannabis industries are growing rapidly—which means hemp farming is, too. But the infrastructure for its processing is still in its infancy.
By driving demand for hemp fiber production, Mohawk is playing a leading role in helping this exceptional material take hold as an everyday resource once again. The CBD and cannabis packaging industries have already embraced hemp-based papers as a way to amplify their brand messaging and express a commitment to sustainability — who’s next?
Mohawk Renewal Hemp papers are available in (shown left to right above) Flower, Fiber White and Clean White. Each shade contains 30 percent hemp fiber blended with post consumer paper waste and/or responsible virgin fibers. Three weights, smooth and rough finishes and envelopes in A2 and A7 also available!
Next up is Straw (shown above), a byproduct of wheat farming that is typically disposed of as waste. Every year, thousands of acres of this rapidly renewable fiber are either burned off or plowed under, contributing to CO2 emission and soil erosion.
Now, that impact is mitigated by harvesting straw for paper pulp. Mohawk Renewal Straw is made using straw fiber harvested by Columbia Pulp in Eastern Washington, where they have built a new mill to process straw fibers into viable paper pulp. Blended with responsibly sourced wood fibers, Renewal Straw has been engineered to perform on every press platform Mohawk serves today, from letterpress to digital and offset.
Each sheet of Mohawk Renewal Straw tells an origin story. Both Harvest White and Wheat shades take their cue from the 30 percent straw fibers used in each sheet. With subtle fiber inclusions, these papers are unique in the market. Choose from three weights, smooth or rough finishes and envelopes in two sizes.
Last up in the trio is Recycled Cotton. Cotton textiles have been recycled to make paper for centuries—in fact, it was the primary paper technology before wood pulp took over.
Strong yet soft, cotton fibers make beautiful paper. Mohawk Renewal Recycled Cotton uses two sources for its cotton fiber: white t-shirts and blue denim. By making the most of these waste materials as a new pulp source, Mohawk is taking pressure off landfills while making fine paper with a story.
Both shades of Mohawk Renewal Recycled Cotton are a direct reflection of their input materials. T-Shirt White is unbleached white and pure cotton textile waste, while Denim is made from 30 percent denim thread and 70 percent cotton t-shirt textile.
Like its Hemp and Straw counterparts, Mohawk Renewal Cotton is available in three weights and two sizes of envelopes, but only the rough finish.
Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing makers start using these lovelies! You can learn more about this gorgeous new trio here. To get samples in your hands, contact your local stocking merchant or Mohawk Sales Representative.