Is it possible to create a truly Sustainable Paper?
We all know that our Planet is under tremendous pressure from human activities. Animals and plants and forests disappearing faster than being replaced. What we discovered in Africa, is that poverty is a result of environmental destruction, BUT environmental destruction is also a result of poverty. Our solution: Banana Paper! And now – 2016 – we are a Fair Trade verified paper producer (WFTO – the World Fair Trade Organization).
What`s Banana Paper?
Banana Paper is made from disposed of (waste product) banana stems. The banana fruit grows only once. After harvesting the fruit, farmers have to cut the “banana tree” to allow a new fruit to grow. The farmers cut the stem and throw it away. A small part is used as organic fertilisers, but the majority becomes waste. Within ONE year there is a new banana tree and banana fruit! On the other hand, a tree for a conventional tree paper may take up to 30 years to grow. The important ingredient in both tree paper and banana paper is FIBER. Our banana stems contains very strong fiber that we use in our banana paper making.
Where and Why?
In 2011, we started to develop this high quality, tree free paper together with women and organic banana farmers in South Luangwa Zambia. THE AIM: developing a high quality sustainable paper that integrates BOTH environmental and social values! South Luangwa is a unique biodiversity hot spot with wild elephants, zebras, giraffes, leopards walking freely. But in the nearby villages extreme poverty exists. Hospitals are far away, education opportunities few, job opportunities even fewer…This leads to deforestation (people cut trees for firewood and a minor income) and poaching of wild animals. Both are illegal, but with few alternatives and an empty stomach…
United Nations SDG’s – Sustainable Development Goals!
We believe Banana Paper can solve those problems. The challenge: developing a tree free paper of enough high quality for the developed countries, and connect our entire activity to UNs new SDG’s – the 17 Sustainable Development Goals!
Using a 1500-years old knowledge to solve a 21st century problem.
In 2011, we succeeded in developing a high quality paper, fit to print text on thanks to a 1500-years old paper making technology – the”Washi” technology – Japanese traditional paper making! We now collaborate with paper factories in a Japanese Washi-town, where our final high quality product is born!
But when we started in 2011, we started from absolutely scratch. No one had heard of “banana paper” here in rural Zambia. Not even the banana farmers! With the help of local people in the villages and printing firms in Japan, we created an entire “eco system supply chain ” from the organic banana farmers in Zambia, the unemployed women and men in the rural villages…to the paper factories in Japan. The result: One Planet Paper® .
In 2012, we started to sell One Planet Paper® on the Japanese market. Even though the price was 8-10 times higher than conventional paper, Japanese printing firms and designers showed a big interest.
Our clients and Awards
We are active in Zambia as an NPO, and in Japan as a Ltd. company working over boarders with all stakeholders to create a shared value. That is why we don’t like to call our staff “staff” but instead our “Banana Team”. And we don’t like to call our clients “clients” but our “Banana Partners”. Thanks to the high quality of our Banana Paper, Japanese well-known companies like Toyota, Panasonic, Shiseido and Ricoh are among companies and organizations using our Zambian-Japanese Banana Paper. Also, United Nations HABITAT, copy machine maker Ricoh, Tokyo University of Arts, and natural cosmetic maker LUSH now also use the paper for certificates, business cards, calendars and ethical wrapping paper. Japanese newspapers like the No.1 financial Nikkei , has introduced our banana paper as a good example for sustainability and it was one of the main themes in the Japanese governments’ magazine Highlighting Japan. In 2013, we won an Award at Japans nationwide award-show for Social Business in the well-known arena “BUDOKAN”.
It`s time for a sustainable and ethical paper!
Our company`s directors are from three continents and countries – Japan, Sweden, Zambia. They have a long history and experience working with sustainability issues like wildlife safari guiding, environmental consulting and CSR-strategy. From this experience we knew that the paper industry has a big ecological footprint, and is suffering from strong criticism. We humans use more than 1 million tons of paper every day, and the usage is increasing each year. The paper industry knows that tigers, orangutans, elephants…are decreasing partly because a non-sustainable paper industry. There is a hunger for change. But how do you change without any high quality alternative? How can we make a truly Sustainable Paper that can satisfy the economical growth in both the developed countries and in Africa, while protecting Africas admired nature, wildlife and people?
We believe it is possible. And we believe bananas is the solution!
Our plain paper and paper products (photo below) line up can be seen on following page.
One Planet Paper® Committee.
In 2013, we established One Planet Paper® Committee – a consortium with Japanese printing firms, paper companies, designers and environmental experts. We work together to develop environmentally correct and fair trade pulp & paper towards Sustainable Development in both Japan and Africa.
Our Japan-Zambia group create global partnerships person-to-person, business-to-business and continent-to-continent. We do banana paper exhibitions and organize national events and seminars together.
Building a Green Factory in Africa
Our next goal is to start to produce the paper in Zambia, using no chemicals and using green (renewable energy) and local, environmentally licensed (and recycled) materials. We will call this factory “The Green Factory”. The place is 20 km outside South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. This factory for Sustainable Development is going to be built in 3 Stages. STAGE 1 (2014): Factory building 1, and Office building in a traditional African style. STAGE 2 (2015): Energy, water, food and transportation infrastructure (organic agro-forestry garden), fiber machines introduction, team training & management. STAGE 3 (2016-2017): Factory building 2 & 3, pulp and paper machines introduction, Multipurpose Room (training and exhibition centre).
In late 2015, we received our first fund ever. The Japanese Embassy in Zambia will fund the majority of our Stage 3 development. We will start Stage 3 in March 2016. Photo: the signing ceremony with the Japanese Ambassador in Zambia.
5 minute mini-documentary about our Banana Paper.
3-minute video from the very start in 2011…