Certain papers contain animal ingredients

All plants contain fibres but they are usually too short or weak to be used for any thing other than making paper. The basic ingredient of all paper is softwood, hardwood trees and other plants such as bamboo, straw, sugarcane, flax, hemp, jute fibres, and cotton/linen/silk rags. In India rice, wheat straw, corn straw and bagasse (a sugarcane by-product) are commonly used to make paper pulp. Other raw materials used by the paper industry include bleaches and dyes, fillers such as chalk, clay or titanium oxide, and sizing such as rosin, gum, and starch. Gelatine is used in the photographic industries, in processes of coatings, sizing, printing, as also in special varieties of paper manufacturing.

Special papers like art paper have a coating (mixture) applied onto the paper which can very well contain animal substances like gelatine for a smooth and glossy writing surface. Some papers (obviously not for writing) contain beeswax as coating.

Baggase/sugar cane paper is made by re-dissolving bagasse pulp and ECF (elemental chlorine free) bleach so it turns out to be an opaque, medium weight, handmade paper with inclusions of baggase fibres.

Banana paper is a natural handmade paper from the waste bark of banana trees but if it is called two-layer banana paper then the bottom layer is mulberry paper. The bark from mulberry trees which are annually pruned is utilised for making this so-called ‘eco-friendly paper’. (The production and use of this paper adds value to mulberry plantations thereby indirectly supporting silk production.)

Butter-paper and wax-paper/waxed-paper is usually coated/water-proofed with paraffin-wax/white wax (beeswax is commonly referred to as white wax/bleached wax or yellow wax) but could be an ester of fatty acids (fats are esters of fatty acids with glycerol) e.g. beeswax, spermaceti (animal waxes are often esters of the steroid alcohol cholesterol) or shellac produced from lac resin. Butter-paper is also called vegetable parchment paper, grease-proof paper, moisture-proof paper, tracing paper and white translucent sheets. Plant based or vegetable parchment paper is made by treating high density paper with silicone and is better for baking/cooking since it does not burn like standard grease-proof or wax-paper.

A typical piece of carbon paper consists of a sheet of paper that has been impregnated with carbon and sandwiched between two sheets of regular paper. The main ingredient in carbon paper is carbon black (produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products such as fluid catalytic cracking tar, coal tar, ethylene cracking tar, and a small amount from vegetable oil) but it can also contain animal ingredients such as lard oil, oleic acid and beeswax. Re-useable carbon paper is coated with a mixture of talc, carnauba wax, victoria blue base, lard oil and oleic acid (all non-animal origin except lard oil which is of animal origin and oleic acid which can be of animal or vegetable origin). Re-useable pigment pencil carbon paper produces erasable copies and is coated with a mixture of milori blue, carnauba wax, mineral oil, amber petrolatum, petrolatum, toning iron blue, and paraffin wax (all non-animal origin). Typewriter carbon paper is also reusable and uses higher quality carbon black and finer ingredients than one time or pencil carbon paper. It is coated with an ink that consists of carnauba wax, mineral oil, carbon black, amber petrolatum, ouricury wax, ozokerite wax, oleic acid, pigmented purple toner, crystal violet dye, victoria blue base and beeswax (all non-animal origin, except beeswax) and for further protection has a backing wax composed of carnauba wax ouricury wax, and microcrystalline wax (all non-animal origin). One time use black carbon paper (the kind used for some credit card receipts and Bank deposit slips) is coated with a mixture of carbon black, paraffin wax, mineral oil, china clay/kaolin, moltan wax, carnauba wax and methyl voilet/gentian violet (all non- animal origin). Whereas, the one time use blue carbon paper is commonly coated with a mixture of iron blue, paraffin wax, petrolatum, mineral oil, carnauba wax, china clay/kaolin and montan wax (all non-animal origin).

As much as fifteen per cent glycerine (can be of animal or non-animal origin) is added to cellophane/gelatine paper to render it pliable.

Pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes, labels, etc. can be of different backing materials like paper, plastic film, cloth or metal foil. PSA tapes or adhesive tapes like Cellophane, Sellotape, and Scotch tapes are made by applying rubber resin or adhesive made from petroleum by-products to cellulose/cellophane film (wood-pulp/man-made textile fibre of plant origin) or acetate which reflects light; whereas matte finish Magic tape is made of PET or biaxially oriented Poly-Ethylene Terephthalate polyester film. BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) tapes made from BOPP paper is a non-animal replacement for gelatine/cellophane paper and are also available. Other PSA applications are removable, e.g. surface protection film, masking tapes, bookmarks and note papers, price marking labels, and for skin contact (wound dressings, athletic tape, drug patches, etc.) and some can be repeatedly stuck and un-stuck, e.g. stick on bindi although the origin of the glue can be of animal (hide), vegetable (rubber, resin) or mineral (petroleum).

Some high-grade cigarette paper is made from flax. The glue used in the making of cigarettes to stick the paper is usually made from maize. The filters are cotton based with viscose staple material, cellulose acetate fibre or crimp tissue.

Emery board/sand paper used for filing may contain animal glue.

Filter paper for coffee and tea bag paper are treated with wet strength resin. If melamine and formaldehyde are used they are of non-animal origin, however are sometimes mixed with a small amount of shellac; but if for example epichlorohydrin is utilised, then it is manufactured from dichlorohydrin which in turn is a combination of glycerol (possibly of animal origin) and hydrochloric acid.

Gunny paper is the finest Indian paper made from recycled jute sacking.

Jute paper is also handmade and is from industrial waste with fibrous strands of jute added.

Handmade paper can contain rags/hosiery/textile waste (includes silk, wool, leather), animal bones, gelatine, etc. India is famous for its petal paper in which flower petals (rose, marigold, aster, corn flower, navranga, and chrysanthemum) are interspersed on newly formed handmade paper.

Khadi paper is made from 100% cotton rags; after drying, sheets are tub-sized with gelatine to produce a hard, water resistant surface.

The wood pulp used for gift wrapping paper is bleached but the material for other papers called Kraft/packing/brown paper is made of unbleached pulp. The strength of gift-wrap items (paper, bags, tags, cards) is important. Special, fancy finishes like foil, iridescent, pearlescent and flocked are used and involve the use of different pigments, and processes. Corrugated cardboard is made by the Kraft process/pulping or sulphate process in which wood pulp/chips consisting of almost pure cellulose fibres are mixed with sodium hydroxide and sodium sulphide. Corn starch glue is usually used to bond the corrugated medium to the liner sheets.

Some paper varnishes applied to labels and display cards are made from shellac.

Metallised papers are prepared by coating cellophane with shellac and then electrically spattering with aluminium.

Completely organic & non-toxic papers are from wheat, maize, rice, and other crops and can have natural inclusions from coconut, water hyacinth, banana, mango, and mulberry. Bamboo paper is also organic.

Paper currency contains gelatine and the security thread is of silk/polymer fibre. The watermark and the security thread are visible only when the bill is held up to a light and can not be duplicated by photocopiers or printers. Cotton and linen rags are used in fine-grade papers, for bank notes and security certificates.

Newly developed artificial leather photo paper is made on a paper-cum-fabric base and comes in different textures, surface designs and colours.

All photographic films contain gelatine. (Ossein is an intermediate in the manufacture of gelatine from animal bones. Interestingly, India exports dried animal bones and ossein mainly to photographic industries.) Albumen found in egg whites is used in the emulsion of traditional photographic paper; in other words for printing a photograph from a negative. The production of almost all printed material like newspapers, magazines, books, etc. entails the use of photographic film. Shellac could be used for preparing dry mounting paper and also for photo engraving and etching. An alternative to using photographic film is the use of digital cameras which do not require use of gelatine coated films. The pictures can be viewed on the computer or television screen.

Punjab watercolour paper is made from 100% cotton but the sizing used in its manufacture could contain animal substances. In fact all paper for watercolour use is tub-sized with gelatine.

‘Recyclable Paper’ somehow gives a false impression that the paper has been recycled. There is no mill in India which produces 100% Recycled Paper as at least 10% wood pulp is used. However, some mills do manufacture 100% recycled newsprint. By utilising recycled paper to some extent forest coverage is saved. In saving such trees from being cut down, indirectly wild animals are saved because it is their habitat.

Silk paper is made from silk, wool, cotton, flowers, jute, straw and any and all materials available for recycling. It is glued together using vegan origin methyl cellulose or corn starch. Paper from mulberry is a by-product of the silk industry. Ironically termed ‘eco-friendly paper’ when the mulberry trees are annually pruned, the bark is converted into paper. By using this paper one would be adding value to the mulberry trees thereby indirectly encouraging the silk industry.

Sunn hemp paper is made form sunn hemp and sized with wheat starch. The watermark naturally formed due to the hollow grass is called chapri. The paper is used for the Koran and Islamic calligraphy.

Tarred paper (commonly called waterproof brown-paper) contains fatty acid pitch which is a by-product residue of the soap industry.

Tetrapak packing is a combination of paper board, aluminium and polyethylene.

Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins and facial tissues all come under the category of sanitary papers and are generally made from a combination of softwood and hardwood trees. Other materials used in their manufacture include water, chemicals (for breaking down the wood into usable fibre) and bleaches such as chlorine, caustic and peroxide.

Plant based vegetable parchment paper is made by treating high density paper with silicone. (Used for pages of a book or manuscripts, and for crafts, parchment is made from sheep/goat/calf skin and vellum is finer quality parchment of calf skin.)

There are two major types of sizing used in paper manufacture: engine/rosin and surface/tub. Rosin is applied to almost all papers and especially those that are machine made, while tub is added to high grade bond, ledger and writing papers. Rosin is also known as colophony/colophonia resina/Greek pitch and is a solid form of resin obtained from conifers; whereas tub sizing is of animal origin because it consists of gelatine glue and/or starch and is commonly used for handmade papers.

Sizing/size is a substance that is applied to porous materials as a glaze or filler. It is used to change surface properties in paper-making. The use of sizing is absolutely essential as otherwise paper would be too absorbent for use. ASA/Alkenyl succinic anhydride and AKD/Alkyl Ketene Dimer are two sizing waxes which are used. ASA is petroleum based, whereas AKD is said to be imported from China and could contain an animal derivative like DPA/docosa pentaenoic acid (seal/marine origin) or arachidonic acid (liver, brain, glands & fat of animals/vegetable origin: peanut oil, linoleic acid). It is a pale yellow waxy flake solid and is used widely in the paper industry as a sizing agent. Other sizing such as starch, gums and rosin utilised would depend upon the eventual use of the paper.

Shellac/Lac: Shellac produced from lac resin is used as coating on certain wallpapers and grease-proof paper. Wall paper paste if made from methyl cellulose is of vegan origin.

Certain paper mills utilise horse hair brush calendars (rollers) however, it is understood that they are being replaced by chilled steel rollers.

If paper manufacturers, who as per law are not allowed to discharge any untreated or even partially treated effluents into rivers and streams, do not let it happen, thousands of fish would not die. (Effluents can and should be treated, reused/recycled.)

Elephant dung paper is made at Jaipur under the brand of Haathi Chaap. About 15 kgs of elephant dung produces 500 sheets of thin paper. The manufacturing process is similar to handmade paper. It turns out to be uniquely textured with a papyrus-like quality although the colour depends upon the elephants’ diet! It is claimed to be bacteria and odour free and can be recycled. Making paper out of animal/elephant dung is promoted among people living around the forests in Uttarakhand too. Elrhino is another brand of notebooks, bags, lamp-shades and photo-frames made from elephant and rhino dung paper in Assam. They are situated at Chaygaon, a town in Kamrup, close to the Kaziranga National Park – their obvious raw material supply. Elephant dung paper is also made in Thailand (Ayatthaya Elephant Camp), Sri Lanka and South Africa, to generate income for elephant conservation. In Africa rhino dung is some times added to the elephant dung utilised for paper making. Kangaroo poo paper is available in Australia. And experiments using reindeer, donkey and camel excreta for producing paper are underway in North America and Europe.

In 2018 a Chinese firm profitably turned panda poop and waste into toilet paper, napkins and other household products. In addition to their poop, the bamboo husk that the pandas spit out after chewing is also utilised to make Panda Poo paper products.

Page last updated on 13/05/19