We started Fresh Press because we wanted to make sustainable paper that renourished the environment and could change the industry. Everything we do here, we keep our natural environment and human/wildlife health top of mind. We aren't perfect. No one is, but we are trying. This section details our successes and shortcomings when it comes to minimizing our environmental impact.
Our innovation isn’t “new” as paper has been around thousands of years, however our applications, story, message, and data from the lab on each fiber are. This is part of the strength of our innovation. We can determine through data in the lab, what agricultural waste fibers are best suited for paper or pulp packaging. In practice our product can help provide a farmer with extra revenue through selling his/her excess harvest biomass to a paper manufacturer (if scaled up).
What we’re currently doing at our studio to reduce our environmental footprint:
Cook with rainwater
Recycle our paper and trimmings back into new paper
Recycle cardboard boxes and plastic/glass
Utilize 100% off-grid solar power at our SSF facility
Use an electric chipper (no gas)
Use only local natural materials that can be considered waste
Pay a local living wage to our employees
We know that at FP there are still many areas of improvement. Despite our strengths, we have located some weaknesses in our innovation. First we are working at a much smaller scale of production than commercial paper and packaging companies, which drives up our cost and makes an apples-apples comparison not as scientific. To remedy this we must conduct a life cycle analysis of our paper and its production. Connected to this, we also do not have all the data we need yet from the lab to begin the next steps to scale up and look into partnerships.
What we’re working towards at our studio to reduce our environmental footprint. By Summer 2019 we hope to:
Have a solar powered studio
Offset energy via Terrapass
Use a people-powered (bike) beater
Filter and reuse all our water
- Install and use a solar cooker for our fibers
- Use all organic cotton in any paper blends
We are constantly looking for grants where we will be able to purchase equipment that will help us reach these goals....
Our Transportation Emissions
From the Sustainable Student Farm to Fresh Press to the South Quad at the University of Illinois, our paper travels a total of 4.4 miles emitting about 4 lbs of greenhouse gases (if we drive!). Compare that mileage to tree-fiber paper which has to travel around 2.700 miles from the Boreal Forests in British Columbia, Canada to paper mills in Wisconsin and finally here to campus. With Fiber you save 2,353 lbs of greenhouse gases by transportation from entering our atmosphere. If you factor in manufacturing, our paper prevents even more greenhouse gas emissions.
Our Carbon Footprint
We don't know, but are looking for new collaborations and funding to pay for a Life Cycle Analysis to determine our precise carbon footprint.
With what we do know, we are pretty sure our agri-fiber papers have a smaller carbon footprint than our tree fiber competitors. In a recent lifecycle study by Step Forward Paper, wheat straw paper was shown to have less than half of the negative impact on the environment in comparison to 100% virgin tree fiber paper. Their papers are 80% tree fiber and 20% wheat straw.
Our Water Savings
In our cooking process, we use rainwater collected from our lab rooftop. We use 5 gallons of water per stockpot and save 15 gallons of municipal water per cooking cycle. Overall we save 60 gallons of water/month.