Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bleach in TeaBags Health Risks

Revealing Bleach in Tea Bags Health Risks

Bleach in tea bags health risks because of the chemical left on it.  Bleach in Tea Bags Health RisksMore and more tea manufacturers maintaining lower cost for tea production.

Therefore, bleach in tea bags health risks for it can contain chlorine dioxide. Long term exposure to this additive may increase cancer risk.

After bleach in tea bags health risks revealed, discontinue drinking tea wouldn’t be a better answer, for many research proven health benefits of drinking tea:

  • As antioxidants to remove free radicals in human body and reduce harmful effects from cigarettes smoking.
  • Reducing the risk of heart diseases, stroke and blood clot.
  • Reduce bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood sugar, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • To prevent osteoporosis, allergy, cold and flu.
  • Speeds up the metabolism, burning fat & calories.
  • For oral care, helps prevent cavities and tooth decay.

Regular tea bags use ground tea leaf that would produce less antioxidant but more caffeine.

It’s nice and best for health drinking the unbleachable tea to take all the benefit of tea for a long time.

Do Bleached Teabags Represent a Health Risk?

Recently there was a lot of buzz in news about how dangerous bleached teabags may be. The fact is that during chlorine-bleaching some toxic substances, like dioxin, may be created. So, let’s find out if small amount of dioxin in chlorine-bleached teabags may actually be dangerous.

What are Teabags Made From?

First teabags were made from silk and muslin. Nowadays teabags are mostly made from paper, produced from a blend of wood and vegetable (hemp) fibers. Both wood and vegetable pulp are usually chlorine-bleached, meaning that small amount of toxic chlorine compounds may end up in teabag paper.

To avoid chlorine toxicity, today some tea sellers use only teabags from non-chlorine (oxygen) bleached teabag paper, completely non-bleached paper, or teabags from synthetic fibers (1).

Paper Production and Bleaching

Wood consists of about 50% cellulose fibers, 30% lignin fibers, and 20% of other easily extracted substances (2). Lignin gives wood its strength and color. In order to get white paper (almost 100% cellulose), lignin and other substances have to be removed. Pulp cooking removes the most lignin from the pulp, and remaining lignin can be removed by bleaching.

Chlorine Bleaching

The aim of using chlorine is to remove lignin from the pulp (delignification), and thus bleach it.


Up until the late 1990s, elementary chlorine (Cl2) was used for pulp bleaching (3). Chlorine pulls lignin out from the pulp. Some chlorine binds to lignin, resulting in toxic organochlorine byproducts like chloroform, dioxin, furans etc.

Chlorine Dioxide - Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) Bleaching

Nowadays chlorine dioxide (ClO2) is used in pulp bleaching instead of elementary chlorine. Chlorine dioxide doesn’t bind to lignin but breaks it down, resulting in by far the less amount of dioxins in wood pulp (3). However, paper bleached with chlorine dioxide is still not completely chlorine free as some paper manufacturers may claim (3).

Extended delignification with ozone, oxygen or other non-chlorine whiteners, can furtherly reduce the amount of dioxins in the pulp (3).

Non-Chlorine Bleaching

Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) Bleaching

Processed Chlorine Free bleaching uses totally chlorine free processing, but includes recycled paper, which must be assumed as previously chlorine-bleached. Both the recycled fiber and any virgin fiber must be bleached without chlorine compounds (3). Before the fibers are made into new paper, they are thoroughly washed many times, so it is unlikely that chlorine will still be attached to the fibers after PCF bleaching. But minute amount of dioxins may still be expected to be found in the pulp.

Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) Bleaching

Totally Chlorine Free bleaching uses no chlorine compounds in bleaching procedure and only virgin wood pulp is used. Bleaching chemicals used - peracetic acid (CH3COOOH), oxygen (O2), ozone (O3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) - produce no chlorine byproducts (3).


The chemical name for dioxin is 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo para dioxin (TCDD). The name ‘dioxins’ is often used for the family of chemically related polychlorinated dibenzo para dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). TCDD is the most toxic dioxin (4,11).

Common Sources of Dioxin

A human, in average, ingests most of dioxin with meat, dairy products, fish, shellfish and eggs (4,11).

Dioxin in Teabags

2,3,7,8-TCDD has been found in teabags at concentrations up to 4.79 ppt (6, page 83)

Dioxins were also found in other bleached paper products including coffee filters, milk and juice cartons, and nappies (7). Bleached containers and filters can leach dioxins into milk, coffee, and other foods with which they come in contact (8).

Health Risk of Dioxin Exposure

Once dioxins have entered the body, they are absorbed by fat tissue. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be seven to eleven years (4). The study performed on Princeton University, USA, in y. 2003, showed that there is no safe dose below which dioxin won’t cause cancer (5).

After ingestion, dioxins accumulate in fatty tissues and disrupt the hormone system. EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) scientists warned in 1994 that minute exposures to organochlorines can lead to cancer, loss of reproductive capabilities, endometriosis, developmental and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, birth defects, and damaged immune systems (4). Fetus may absorb dioxins across the placenta and infant through their mother’s milk (9). However, TCDD does not affect DNA (4).

Who’s Sensitive to Dioxin?

All people may be harmed by small amounts of dioxin, but at most risks are:

  • developing fetus
  • newborn, with rapidly developing organ systems

Chlorine Free Products Association

The Chlorine Free Products Association certifies papers that meet their criteria for chlorine free. It awards its PCF symbol (Processed Chlorine Free) to papers that contain a minimum of 30% recycled fibers, have not been chlorine-rebleached, and use TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) virgin pulp that did not come from old growth forests. Its TCF symbol (Totally Chlorine Free) is awarded to virgin papers meeting the same criteria (3). PCF and TCF symbols may be found on some paper products including tea bags.

Customer Awareness

Because of increased customers awareness, many tea selling companies now use oxygen-bleached teabags instead of chlorine-bleached ones.

It’s hard to say from the look of the teabag, is it bleached or not. If in doubt, and if you find this as an important issue, call the tea seller company and ask. They are usually willing to answer all questions.

Final Words about Bleached Teabags Health Risk

The following conclusion may be made from currently accessible online sources:

1. Dioxin was found in teabags in small amounts (6).

2. There is no minimal dose of dioxin which will not be able to cause cancer (5).

3. There is no known study showing, that people using bleached teabags actually get cancer or other diseases more often than others. For comparison, FDA (US Federal Drug Administraton) estimated that an amount of dioxin consumed by people using bleached coffee filters would theoretically generate no more than one excess incident of cancer in one million people (10).

A look inside teabag paper: teabag paper manufacturers respond to environmental, packing, and marketing challenges.

began preparing for battle the moment I agreed to write an article about teabag paper. "Everyone's very sensitive about the bleached versus nonbleached paper issue, but we've got to cover it," I was forewarned. Well, as it turned out, I was spared any direct confrontation, not out of courtesy but rather because tea paper manufacturers have adapted. This is not to say that the issue is no longer controversial it remains so, and nearly every spokesperson I interviewed quite willingly shared his or her views on the various bleaching bleaching, process of whitening by chemicals or by exposure to sun and air, commonly applied to textiles, paper pulp, wheat flour, petroleum products, oils and fats, straw, hair, feathers, and wood.
..... Click the link for more information. processes, the meaning of dioxin dioxin

Aromatic compound, any of a group of contaminants produced in making herbicides (e.g., Agent Orange), disinfectants, and other agents. Their basic chemical structure consists of two benzene rings connected by a pair of oxygen atoms; when substituents on the rings are , its relative toxicity, and the amount of it present in nature. But, somewhere along the line, tea companies, and in turn tea paper manufacturers and packers, decided to accommodate consumer perceptions rather than spend their resources to resist or change them.

I also realized early on that we were finding plenty of other things to talk about. What emerged from conversations with representatives of tea paper manufacturers Dexter, Crompton, Schoeller & Hoesch, Bollore and its subsidiary Bolmet, Kimberly-Clark, Johnson & Johnson, and Aldine was a rough sketch of an industry that is responding to challenges posed by intensifying environmental concerns, efforts at product differentiation Product Differentiation

A source of competitive advantage that depends on producing some item that is regarded to have unique and valuable characteristics. (e.g. the round tea bag) and technological developments in pursuit of higher levels of packing efficiency.


What makes a good teabag paper? In short, neutrality of taste, dust retention, infusion speed. Innovations in teabag paper will be judged according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3. these key criteria in the first instance.

Neutrality of taste, taken for granted Adj. 1. taken for granted - evident without proof or argument; "an axiomatic truth"; "we hold these truths to be self-evident"
axiomatic, self-evident

obvious - easily perceived by the senses or grasped by the mind; "obvious errors"
..... Click the link for more information. by most everyone but the testers themselves, is clearly one of the most basic qualities sought in a teabag paper. Paper manufacturers had relatively little to say on the topic, however. "After all these years For the film, see .

"After All These Years" is the fifth and final single released by rock band Silverchair from their fourth album, Diorama, which was released in 2002, while "After All These Years" was released in 2003.
..... Click the link for more information., it's largely been dealt with," I heard. How does a manufacturer assure neutrality of taste? "Basically, to be considered neutral in taste, a paper in water must have no taste," explains Steve Higgins, sales manager sales manager n
gerente m/f de ventas

sales manager n
directeur commercial

sales manager sale n
, Long Fiber Papers with Bolmet, a Connecticut-based U.S. subsidiary of Bollore. "We are very careful in our pulp selection for this reason. We buy dry bundled pulp, manila, and wood, put them in beating units, saturate sat·u·rate
v. Abbr. sat.
1. To imbue or impregnate thoroughly.

2. To soak, fill, or load to capacity.

3. To cause a substance to unite with the greatest possible amount of another substance. and dissolve them in water. It then goes into the paper machine with lots of water, in what is called the "wet laid" paper process. There the pulps are tasted and tested for neutrality."

The teabag paper industry has always had another, equally important calling: in the words of Schoeller & Hoesch commercial manager of Long Fiber Papers, Horst Dannhauser, "keeping the dry particles in on one side, but later on allowing the taste and color to infuse in·fuse
1. To steep or soak without boiling in order to extract soluble elements or active principles.

2. To introduce a solution into the body through a vein for therapeutic purposes. in the cup. It's very difficult, a balancing of density and porosity porosity /po·ros·i·ty/ (por-os´it-e) the condition of being porous; a pore.

1. The state or property of being porous.

2. ."

Stephen Higgins of Bolmet assesses this essential function of tea paper in similar terms: "The issues we in the business of manufacturing tea paper are concerned about are, along with keeping the paper running on the machines, keeping the tea in the bag, brewing qualities in the cup and infusion speed. The trick is to find the right balance between these different considerations."

Dust retention and infusion characteristics still do present challenges to teabag paper manufacturers, who typically serve many distinct tea-drinking traditions around the globe. What is acceptable in one country or culture may offend another. As one example, tea dust can settle to the bottom of a tea carton with certain papers and teas. This, I'm told, has limited the use of patterned tea paper in the U.S. in particular, though it poses no obstacle in many other markets.

MANILA, WOOD PULP wood pulp: see paper. & THERMOPLASTICS

Most papers, such as writing papers and newsprint newsprint

low grade paper used for newspapers. Old newspapers are fed to cattle as an alternative roughage and may occasionally be ingested by dogs. Significant amounts of lead are accumulated in tissues; no cases of poisoning have been recorded in cattle, though it has been , writes Peter Hart For the computer scientist and pioneer in artificial intelligence, see .
Peter Hart is a Canadian historian, specialising in modern Irish history. Life
Hart was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland. , commercial director for Bollore, are made of short-fibered pulps. Teabag paper, on the other hand, is long-fibered, composed largely of cellulosic cel·lu·lose
A complex carbohydrate, (C6H10O5)n, that is composed of glucose units, forms the main constituent of the cell wall in most plants, and is important in the manufacture of numerous products, fibers with the addition, in the case of heat-sealing papers, of thermoplastic A polymer material that turns to liquid when heated and becomes solid when cooled. There are more than 40 types of thermoplastics, including acrylic, polypropylene, polycarbonate and polyethylene. fibers.

According to Bolmet's Steve Higgins, "Long fiber is a type of pulp derived from manila hemp which itself is won from the abaca plant ['musa textilus'] grown commercially in the Philippines and Ecuador. It's higher in strength, its fibers are longer, it gives high porosity and high wet strength, and is therefore more resilient. In comparison, your average paper is made from wood pulp. These tea papers are all "wet-strengthened" in order to withstand the impact of boiling water without any risk of disintegration disintegration /dis·in·te·gra·tion/ (-in?ti-gra´shun)
1. the process of breaking up or decomposing.

2. ."

"Manila long fibers are the expensive ingredient," Higgins explains, "and typically make up more than 50% of the tea paper content. The remaining content is mostly wood pulp."

At least two manufacturers have become directly involved in the production of abaca pulp, presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. because of its relatively high cost.


Wood pulps have become the focus of much unsought attention in recent years. Up until the late 1980's, most wood pulp was bleached using the chlorine-based process. To allay al·lay
tr.v. al·layed, al·lay·ing, al·lays
1. To reduce the intensity of; relieve: allay back pains. See Synonyms at relieve.

..... Click the link for more information. environmental concerns and reduce the formation and effluent effluent

waste from an abattoir carried away in liquid form. Disposal is a major problem because of the need to avoid pollution of waterways. See aerobic effluent treatment, anaerobic effluent treatment. disposal of dioxins at the pulp mills A pulp mill is a manufacturing facility that converts wood chips or other plant fiber source into a thick fiber board which can be shipped to a paper mill for further processing.
..... Click the link for more information., tea paper manufacturers have replaced chlorine-- bleached wood pulps with either oxygen-bleached or unbleached wood pulp.

In Germany, unbleached paper has become standard for teabags. This makes it a good place to begin a discussion of this controversial topic. Dannhauser of Schoeller and Hoesch notes: "The German consumer is especially environmentally sensitive. Bleaching, or rather not bleaching, has become a big marketing issue. Nearly all of the German tea market is unbleached for Schoeller & Hoesch. There's also some unbleached in Austria, a little in Switzerland, and some in the Australian and Sri Lankan markets. In fact, a good portion of our paper production is unbleached. It looks brighter now than it did initially. We use more manila or abaca. Neutrality of taste is not an issue with these papers."

Only a handful of tea comparues use unbleached paper for their teabags on the U.S. market. Traditional Medicinals is one of them.

Drake Sadler, ceo of Traditional Medicinals operating out of Sebastopol in Northern California Northern California, sometimes referred to as NorCal, is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The region contains the San Francisco Bay Area, the state capital, Sacramento; as well as the substantial natural beauty of the redwood forests, the northern , reviews his company's experience in introducing its unbleached products to the American consumer. "We were the first company to use unbleached paper for our teabags exclusively. We conducted a variety of taste tests and taste profiles, and determined that there was no taste and no consumer resistance to the brown paper. Once we informed consumers why we were using unbleached paper, and once we triggered consumer awareness, we found a very high level of consumer acceptance and preference."

Traditional Medicinals' Canadian line of teas is packed by Hersa-T out of Boucherville, Canada, advises Christopher Hensby, a spokesperson for the packer packer /pack·er/ (pak´er) an instrument for introducing a dressing into a cavity or a wound.

1. An instrument for tamponing.

2. See plugger. . Hersa-T buys its oxygen bleached supply from Bollore. Traditional Medicinals packs its own teas for the U.S. line using Crompton unbleached tea paper.

Some may argue that the U.S. audience is highly self-selected and therefore not a good measure of broader consumer receptivity. Undoubtedly, there is some truth to this contention, but consider that this same group of consumers has proven to be "pioneers" before, with other consumers trailing not too far behind. Combined with the success of the unbleached teabag in the German market and elsewhere, unbleached tea paper is no longer such a radical notion.

Sadler admits that it required foresight and consumer education to introduce unbleached teabag paper successfully. "It was important to inform consumers at the beginning because there were some initial questions, if for no other reason because it represented change. Consumers want consistency, and any major departures will raise questions. So we went ahead and put that information right on the box. We used the whole inside flap The communications protocol used by AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). FLAP runs over TCP/IP and provides the header format for transmitting IM commands and data. It includes the SNAC data type, which is the primary data structure transmitted between clients and servers. See OSCAR.

1. to communicate to consumers. It reads: "In 1980, Traditional Medicinals was the first tea company to introduce a natural teabag. Eager to capitalize on Cap´i`tal`ize on`

v. t. 1. To turn (an opportunity) to one's advantage; to take advantage of (a situation); to profit from; as, to capitalize on an opponent's mistakes s>. consumer trends towards "environmentally friendly Environmentally friendly, also referred to as nature friendly, is a term used to refer to goods and services considered to inflict minimal harm on the environment.[1]
..... Click the link for more information." products, several other tea companies have recently introduced a new "oxygen bleached" teabag paper, which may use hypochlorites and peroxide peroxide (p
ərŏk`sīd), chemical compound containing two oxygen atoms, each of which is bonded to the other and to a radical or some element other than oxygen; e.g. in the bleaching process. Our natural teabag paper however is not bleached in any way, hence the plant fiber look to the bag. It just doesn't get any better or friendlier than this!"

As if that weren't enough to stir up controversy, the text continues on the opposite flap on the subject of teabag design. "We believe the teabag design is also important. Unlike the common pillow type teabag, the edges of which are heat sealed with chemicals, our natural teabag with its fold over and staple design Staple Design is a New York City based company that mainly produces clothing. Staple Design was founded by Jeff Staple in 1997, and has since gained itself a considerable following as an underground streetware company. is free of these chemicals." Here, Sadler refers to the thermoplastic fibers added to heat sealable tea papers.

Traditional Medicinals is a $10 million a year company based on its herbal tea sales internationally. "We do especially well in Canada, where we have 10 to 12 over-the-counter medicinal items, and of course, the packaging is bi-lingual. We also have a Commonwealth line, designed for the U.K., Ireland, Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov.
..... Click the link for more information., Australia, Europe, and Malaysia."



Others disagree with Verb 1. disagree with - not be very easily digestible; "Spicy food disagrees with some people"
hurt - give trouble or pain to; "This exercise will hurt your back" Sadler. Reservations expressed by several manufacturers range from initial concerns about taste, cleanliness Cleanliness
See also Orderliness.

Cleverness (See CUNNING.)


unkempt herself, demands cleanliness from others, especially children. [Ger. Folklore: Leach, 137]


continually “washes” itself.
..... Click the link for more information., and packing efficiency to its use as a marketing tool.

I directed these questions to Randy Davis, general manager of sales & marketing for the NonWovens Division of the Dexter Corporation. He replies: "Unbleached products were so dirty that pulps available at the time didn't yield good taste characteristics. But in less than a year, unbleached pulp products got better and cleaner. The Germans, in particular, bought unbleached teabag paper."

"Using unbleached pulps," Davis continues, "basically creates a much dirtier manufacturing environment. You may need to clean the system more often and that may require harsh chemicals and a special cleaning regime beyond that necessary with oxygen-bleached pulps. In general, most people have adopted the oxygen process as the most cost-effective quality system and product. Almost all of our paper is oxygen-bleached. There is also a small differential in taste-- you therefore need to match paper and tea blends. It has a different reaction with the tea. We check for neutrality of taste all the time. and we approve pulps based on their taste neutrality."

I put the same questions to Peter Gould, president of Aldine Technologies, toll manufacturers of teabag paper based in Carlstadt, New Jersey Carlstadt is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the borough population was 5,917.

Carlstadt was originally formed as a village by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 12, 1860, within Lodi Township.
..... Click the link for more information.. He responds by relating one story in which a client, for whom they were manufacturing unbleached paper, complained because it didn't look brown enough. "What we had to do was add color to make the paper a darker brown so that it would look more like what consumers expect an unbleached product to look like." Gould adds that, "The industry itself has moved toward 'TCF' or "totally chlorine-free" paper. It is available for teabag paper and will continue to be in the future."

Matt Christian, marketing manager with Kimberly-Clark, observes: "Most of the interest we see is in the oxygen bleached paper and things seem to be moving in that direction." When I caught up with Christopher Hensby of Hersa-T, he concurred as well--unbleached paper is indeed being given more consideration.


Peter Hart of Bollore suggests keeping the concern about the bleaching processes in context. According to literature provided by Bollore Technologies, dioxins are a group of 210 chemicals found in trace elements Trace elements
A group of elements that are present in the human body in very small amounts but are nonetheless important to good health. They include chromium, copper, cobalt, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc. Trace elements are also called micronutrients. in the natural environment. Seventeen in this group are regarded as potential health hazards health hazard Occupational safety Any agent or activity posing a potential hazard to health. Cf Physical hazard. because of their toxicity. Number 2, 3, 7, and 8 TCDD TCDD

tetrachlorodibenzodioxin. is the most toxic. Dioxins are mainly formed as the result of the combustion of organic materials and of certain chemical reactions This is the 18th episode of television drama Men in Trees. It originally aired on June 25, 2007 on the TV2 network in New Zealand as a continuation of season 1. Recap
Marin and Cash have a stew cook off, she admits his is better than hers. involving chlorinated chlorinated /chlo·ri·nat·ed/ (klor´i-nat?ed) treated or charged with chlorine.


charged with chlorine.

chlorinated acids
some, e.g. compounds, one of which is the use of chlorine and chlorine dioxide chlorine dioxide,
n an oxidizing agent used in oral care to decrease amounts of volatile sulfur compounds that may cause halitosis. in the bleaching of wood pulp Bleaching of wood pulp is the chemical processing carried out on various types of wood pulp to decrease the color of the pulp, so that it becomes whiter. The main use of wood pulp is to make paper where whiteness (similar to but not exactly the same as "brightness") is an important ; paper products containing wood pulp treated in this manner contain minute quantities of 2,3,7,8 TCDD ranging from one to two parts per trillion.

Steve Higgins pursues the topic further: "The move toward oxygenbased compounds to bleach bleach

Solid or liquid chemical compound used to whiten or remove the natural colour of fibres, yarns, paper, and textile fabrics. Sunlight was the chief bleaching agent up to the discovery of chlorine in 1774 by Karl Wilhelm Scheele (b. 1742—d. pulps eliminates chlorine and therefore dioxin as a byproduct by·prod·uct or by-prod·uct
1. Something produced in the making of something else.

2. A secondary result; a side effect.

Noun 1. . Hydrogen peroxide hydrogen peroxide, chemical compound, H2O2, a colorless, syrupy liquid that is a strong oxidizing agent and, in water solution, a weak acid. It is miscible with cold water and is soluble in alcohol and ether. is used in the oxygen bleaching process instead. The majority of our papers are white environmental papers that have been oxygen bleached and which are also slightly more expensive. The unbleached wood pulp, which is light brown in color, is washed but not bleached, but it is not widely used here."

Johnson & Johnson sidesteps the bleached versus unbleached dilemma altogether with its synthetic gauze gauze (gawz) a light, open-meshed fabric of muslin or similar material.

absorbable gauze gauze made from oxidized cellulose. fabric for teabags: "The bleaching issue is not an issue for Johnson & Johnson's gauze, Andre Prud'Homme, a company market specialist is delighted to point out. "There is no wood pulp, no bleach, and therefore no problem."



Meanwhile, it has also been necessary for teabag paper manufacturers to attend to the latest round of technological developments in tea packing machinery, which could reduce the teabag to its barest essentials: a stringless, tagless heat-sealable packet. Or, if Aldine Technologies succeeds with its latest innovation, the teabag could become a one-piece paper unit with an integral string-like strip, called an Integral Retrieval Device, or IRD IRD Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (French)
IRD Inland Revenue Department (New Zealand's tax revenue collection department)
IRD Integrated Receiver Decoder . With no fold or staple, it too relies on heat sealable paper for closure.

These innovations in the teabag and the papers they use have largely been inspired by the promise of greater packing efficiency. Packing speeds now approach 3,000 and 4,000 units per minute. Again, according to Aldine's Gould: "Heat sealable is the way of the future because of speed. There's a good chance that Lipton will go that way too. Synthetic fibers Noun 1. synthetic fiber - fiber created from natural materials or by chemical processes
man-made fiber

fiber, fibre - a slender and greatly elongated substance capable of being spun into yarn

acrylic, acrylic fiber - polymerized from acrylonitrile
..... Click the link for more information. will also gain in momentum. We have also come up with a new teabag paper, a lightweight super strong teabag tissue for use on the new IRD machine." This is just one clear illustration of the effect of tea packing innovations on tea papers.

Says Randy Davis of Dexter: "The basis weight of non-heat sealable paper is lower than it is for heat sealable paper, but, generally speaking, the packing efficiency pay-off for the heat sealable is greater in an economic analysis. The considerably faster packing speeds with heat sealable papers offset the loss in yield. I do see the start of a trend, though it is too early to tell definitively in what direction things will go."

Davis explains that until recently, packing technology was built around the Constanta-folded, stapled, nonheat sealable with a string and tag. "In the U.K., for example, there is what is called a 'pot market.' A serving size there is larger, and typically they don't have strings and tags. That market is almost exclusively made up of heat sealable paper. The U.S., on the other hand, is a single-cup dispensing dispensing

provision of drugs or medicines as set out properly on a lawful prescription. A prescription can only be filled, the drugs supplied, by a registered pharmacist, veterinarian, dentist or member of the medical profession. market, and the non-heat sealable string and tag has been predominant." By most accounts, then, this the trend is toward heat-sealable papers. This is largely being determined by the packing machinery.


Aldine Technologies brought out its Super 5000 packing machine earlier this year. From his interested perspective, Gould predicts: "We would expect the biggest change in the tea market to come in the form of modernization modernization

Transformation of a society from a rural and agrarian condition to a secular, urban, and industrial one. It is closely linked with industrialization. As societies modernize, the individual becomes increasingly important, gradually replacing the family, of packaging in the next decade." He then proceeds to itemize To individually state each item or article.

Frequently used in tax accounting, an itemized account or claim separately lists amounts that add up to the final sum of the total account on claim. the impressive efficiencies won by tea companies if they abandon other machines which pack Lipton's flowthru bags at 180 or 190 bags to 400 bags/minute respectively. "Lipton round, tagless decaf de·caf
n. Informal
Decaffeinated coffee.

decaf adj. and regular smooth blend family size bags are packed on a Super 5000 machine at speeds of 3,000 tagless or tags per minute. And the Super 5000 is easy to modify for a change in size of the teabags--a matter of 20 minutes as opposed to two months. You see, machines used to be what we call "dedicated," made to produce teabags in one size only. With the Super 5000, you can change size, shape or even product in a matter of 20 minutes. The industry is moving away from the standard IMA (Interactive Multimedia Association, Annapolis, MD) An earlier trade association founded in 1988 originally as the Interactive Video Industry Association. It provided an open process for adopting existing technologies and was involved in subjects such as networked services, scripting machine with its 11,000 parts. Our machine has 140 parts, which translates into easier maintenance. It is mechanical technology versus computerized electric technology."

In terms of investment, says Gould, the Super 5000 costs about twice as much as an IMA, but should be competitive on a per unit or per bag basis. "Because of the Super 5000's price tag, we anticipate that it will interest the big names in the industry, the Liptons, Tetleys, Bigelows, and Celestials of the world, who will be in a position to make the investment. Our goal is to sell 12 machines between August '93 and the same time next year."


Hart may dampen some of the enthusiasm mounting for the highspeed packing technology. He observes a few of the drawbacks as they currently operate. According to Hart, "The early teabag machines produced as few as 60 bags/minute. Today, the most modern machines are producing 2,000 bags/minute, for example the IMAC Apple's primary desktop computer. The iMac is an "all-in-one" that houses the computer and drives within the flat panel monitor case. Since their debut in 1998, the iMacs have been very popular. Like all Macintosh models in that time frame, the first iMacs used PowerPC chips. 50, IMAC51, RE370, while one machine, the SIGRT, has a production of 4,000 bags/minute. With the faster machines, one needs fewer machine operators, but if a machine breaks down, the loss of production can be very significant. For this reason, I do not expect that the machine manufacturers will design machines in the future to exceed 2,000 bags/minute."

As tea packing equipment becomes faster and more sophisticated, it also demands more from a tea paper. The paper has been improved in order to meet these more exacting requirements in terms of cut-ability, and time and temperature required to achieve a heat seal.

Again, according to Hart, "A slow running machine allows the paper a longer period of time between its sealing cylinders to affect a good seal whereas, on a faster machine, the sealing temperatures have to be raised in order to compensate for the much shorter 'dwell time' between the crimps of the sealing cylinder. Paper is more likely to tear on a faster machine, and, for such reasons, the physical characteristics of the teabag paper have had to be improved. The introduction of computer controls on the papermaking pa·per·mak·ing
The process or craft of making paper.

paper·mak machines has also enhanced the quality."

Most of the manufacturers supporting research and development are actively addressing these problems. Gould also notes his company's research in this regard: "We also have been working on what might be termed the "next generation" of seal material for teabag paper. It is stronger, and it dry seals at a lower temperature, which means it can be run faster."

Manufacturers of tea packing machinery emphasize the greater flexibility of the new machines that use both heat sealable and non-heat sealable paper and can produce both string and tag and tagless bags. Despite this flexibility, the highspeed packing machines increasingly dictate the kinds of tea paper manufactured to run on them.


It is entertaining enough to consider the relative merits of the round teabag. In addition to its value as a novelty, it may even offer a better infusion. It also creates some additional paper waste, as the round shape leaves an excess portion when cut out. The round teabag packing process tests the paper in new ways as well. "Round bags are also inspiring new research to create a paper best suited to the equipment that makes them," says Steve Higgins. "These bags are "punched" rather than cut, so the knives are different, and there is also more paper waste."

In Peter Hart's opinion, the round bag has been a success: "Initially, I expected that it would be a flop FLOP - 1. An early system on the IBM 701.

[Listed in CACM 2(5):16 (May 1959)]. because there is the same weight of tea in a bag which is smaller in surface area than the conventional rectangular bag. It is important, to obtain the best infusion, to have maximum contact between the water and the surface of the tea leaves and one would expect to achieve this with the larger bag. In the 1970s, all the major tea companies increased the size of their bags in order to attain this. In fact, a round bag always falls flat, distributing the tea more evenly over its surface, whereas a rectangular bag can stand on end causing the tea to concentrate at the bottom of the bag and, as a result, some of the tea leaves are never properly infused. The round bag, and the machines upon which it is packed, have produced the most exacting demands ever on teabag paper."

Finally, if the round bag can be called marketing success at the very least, "something new and exciting in the market," as Andre Prud'Homme describes it, how long can it be before we see further efforts to differentiate teabags with new shapes? And what demands might these other shapes place on tea paper? How about hexagonal hex·ag·o·nal
1. Having six sides.

2. Containing a hexagon or shaped like one.

3. Mineralogy ? The shape of a tea cup? A tea leaf? Which brings me to the next possible arena for tea paper differentiation: patterned paper.



"Apertured papers" bearing a "diamond" pattern have been available at least since the 1960's, according to Hart. Here, manufacturers look for some optimum balance between dust retention, which can be controlled by producing a paper with a closer formation, and good infusion of the tea. "The initial problem with the diamond pattern was that dust retention was poor and tea dust escaped from the teabags into the cartons. However this problem has largely been overcome, certainly by Bollore, and more complicated patterns are now available, Bollore has produced papers with 'tulip,' 'teapot,' and other distinctive patterns while it has also invented a process of embossing embossing, process of producing upon various materials designs or patterns in relief by mechanical means. The material is pressed between a pair of dies especially adapted to its hardness and the depth of the design needed. teabag paper with very complicated logos."

Boilore and other paper manufacturers have also developed "lowdust" papers to minimize or eliminate siftings. "We use the low dust paper with patterns. We've developed the concept in recent years. It adds uniqueness to a product and an interesting angle for marketing."

On the prospects of patterned paper in the German market, Damhauser says, "Most of the tea consumers in Germany drink herbal tea. The U.K. has a more competitive black tea market. Only the big companies can think about putting logos on the paper, which is very costly and requires big quantities to justify the expenses."

Christopher Hensby of Hersa-T packers adds "At this point, we use patterned paper only for black tea. This sector is quite small, but I think it may be up and coming."


We may witness a growing demand for low dust paper because of its particular suitability for flavored, decaffeinated de·caf·fein·at·ed
Having the caffeine removed: decaffeinated coffee; decaffeinated soft drinks.

de·caf , and herbal teas. Several manufacturers point out the advantages of this match. Bolmet's Higgins remarks, "Decaffeinated teas and herbal teas, for example, can be very dusty and require a "low-dust" paper, which will keep the dust in the bag in a dry state." Gould of Aldine anticipates growth in demand for these tea varieties and calculates that this may translate into a greater demand for low dust papers, depending on the flavoring processes: "You're going to see, as we did with fla- vored coffees, flavored teas, non- traditional flavors like amaretto am·a·ret·to
n. pl. am·a·ret·tos
An Italian liqueur flavored with almond.

[Italian, diminutive of
amaro, bitter, from Latin am tea in a can, or a mint julep mint julep: see julep. ."


Johnson & Johnson's synthetic gauze, while by no means a low dust paper, may be well positioned to take advantage of the emerging interest among specialty tea companies in bagging their teas to broaden their acceptance in the U.S. market (see Tea & Coffee, April 1993, pg 68). The match would be a fortuitous one for Johnson & Johnson. Its gauze costs considerably more than regular tea paper and therefore is well out of range for non-specialty teas companies. "Our gauze is two to three times more expensive than paper, but it offers better infusion than paper, it's a faster infusion process," explains Prud'Homme. "Our fabric will address the niche specialty market." The gauze is an entirely human-made material, rayon with a cellulosic base, and can be folded and stapled or heat sealed, contends Prud'Homme. And, with its big hole structure, it is apparently suited for use with premium tea blends. Again, Prud'Homme: "Ultimately, it results in a richer, fuller cup of tea."

Other manufacturers have also been working on developing synthetic materials for use in teabags. I am not surprised when I learn that Aldine is making trade news in this arena as well. "We have developed a new synthetic fiber that allows a better and faster infusion," says Peter Gould. "It wets out immediately but doesn't expand. Normally, the fibers of a teabag paper expand and close pores, which reduces pore pore (por) a small opening or empty space.

alveolar pores openings between adjacent pulmonary alveoli that permit passage of air from one to another. size and infusion rate. The effect of this expansion is to lengthen length·en
tr. & intr.v. length·ened, length·en·ing, length·ens
To make or become longer.

lengthen·er n. the time to the first color. The longer it takes, of course, the cooler the tea water gets."


When I joined the company 2 years ago," writes Peter Hart, "Bollore employed only 700 persons but, with our dynamic president at the helm, the company has grown and grown and currently employs 27,000 people. Twelve years ago, our interests were limited to the production of paper and polypropylene polypropylene (pŏl'ēprō`p
əlēn), plastic noted for its light weight, being less dense than water; it is a polymer of propylene. It resists moisture, oils, and solvents. film, but today, our activities include: shipping (50 vessels), nine factories in France, subsidiaries in China, Italy, Japan and the U.S., distribution of coal and oil in France, freight services, tobacco plantations tobacco plantation n plantación f de tabaco; tabacal m , and the manufacture of cigarettes."

Bollore remains a family controlled operation after 121 years, presently led by Vincent Bollore. Bolmet, its U.S. subsidiary located in Dayville, Connecticut, does about $50 million a year in business, which contributes to Bollore's worldwide annual earnings of approximately $6 billion. "Teabag paper is a secondary product in the total for Bolmet at this time. Metalizing film is the number one source of income," acknowledges Higgins, and Bolmet sales are about evenly divided between heat sealable and non-heat sealable.

Higgins adds that the company supports a division dedicated solely to research and development: "The research is looking to make a better teabag, a faster infusing bag, a paper with better performance on the machine, as well as improving cost issues."


Dexter is the originator of the rocess from which tea paper was first made," according to Randy Davis. "We have roots in Connecticut that go back to 1767. We are also the leading supplier of teabag paper worldwide, and the only manufacturer to operate at three distinct sites," referring to their plants in Connecticut, Scotland, and Sweden. The Windsor Locks Windsor Locks, town (1990 pop. 12,358), Hartford co., N Conn., on the Connecticut River; settled 1663, set off from Windsor and inc. 1854. Once a tobacco-farming center, it has aircraft, aerospace, and paper industries. facility in Connecticut produces for the U.S. and export markets. A large percentage of the capacity at the Chirnside, Scotland plant, which was acquired in 1972, is dedicated to the U.K. market. Although little tea product is manufactured currently in Stalldalen, which they've run for three years now, the company sees it as potential support for its activities in European markets on the continent.

"The Connecticut facility," continues Davis, "is a multi-machine mill using the wet-laid method. It is what is known in the industry as an 'inclined wire wet form product.' We carry the full range of custom heat sealable or regular (non-heat sealable) paper. We are also the most advanced company manufacturing patterned paper in the U.K. In the last three years we've advanced patterns, designs of logos into teabags, so that the logo actually goes in and out of the cup itself. We do this for the leading brands in the U.K."

Davis adds that they are quite proud of the fact that the company has been audited and accredited accredited

recognition by an appropriate authority that the performance of a particular institution has satisfied a prestated set of criteria.

accredited herds
cattle herds which have achieved a low level of reactors to, e.g. as a ISO (1) See ISO speed.

(2) (International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland, An organization that sets international standards, founded in 1946. The U.S. member body is ANSI. 9001 Quality System. This status was granted by an independent body after comparing Dexter's total quality system against ISO 9001 criteria. "It's a very rigorous process, and represents a considerable investment of time and energy on the part of the company, but it also says a lot about the high quality of our operation."


From the early 1800s until its acquisition by Portals Group plc in 1990, JR Crompton Ltd produced and exported long-fibered paper to more than 70 countries. It is, by all accounts, one of the major forces in world-wide teabag paper production. Since the late 1980's, all wood pulps purchased by Crompton are either bleached by "less environmentally damaging" or peroxide processes The peroxide process produces hydrazine, it is a variant of the Raschig process in which hydrogen peroxide is used to oxidize ammonia in the presence of a ketone. , or purchased in its unbleached form. The manufacturer ceased using chlorine bleached wood pulps years ago. The Crompton line includes non-heatseal paper, its "Superseal" perforated per·fo·ra·ted
Pierced with one or more holes. and plain paper, which gives the strongest "wet" seal of any heat sealable paper, so strong, in fact, that Superseal can withstand being immersed im·merse
tr.v. im·mersed, im·mers·ing, im·mers·es
1. To cover completely in a liquid; submerge.

2. To baptize by submerging in water.

3. in boiling water for hours. Superseal possesses additional properties which make it uniquely suited to conversion on some of the very latest generation teabag machinery. Its thermoplastic layer is much thicker than that found in ordinary heatsealing papers, so that when it is heated, rather than just sealing at the point of contact, the seal extends through the fiber layers, providing a stronger bond of than that achieved by standard heat sealable grades.

The company was rounded in 1856 by James Roger Crompton at the Elton Paper Mill in Lancashire, the heart of the papermaking industry in the North of England. Following WWII WWII
World War II

WWII World War Two , the Simpson Clough n. 1. A cleft in a hill; a ravine; a narrow valley.
2. A sluice used in returning water to a channel after depositing its sediment on the flooded land.
1. (Com.) An allowance in weighing. See Cloff. Mill was commissioned at Heywood in 1945/6. Paper production at the purpose-built Lydney mill started in 1965 and that mill now houses one of the biggest longfibered paper machines in Europe. In 1974 the company made a strategic decision and began devoting its resources exclusively to the manufacture of long-fiber papers, and JR Crompton became the largest producer of these papers in Europe.


Schoeller & Hoesch's predecessor was rounded back in 1881, originally as a pulp production facility, and began paper production several years later. As of 1992, five paper machines were in operation at the Papierfabrik Schoeller & Hoesch, Papierfabrik Schoeller & Hoesch, tucked away in the Schwarzwald of southwestern Germany, producing 40,000 tons of special paper valued at more than 232 million German marks (approximately $140 million). The company maintains an extensive distribution and storage network including a facility in Summerville, South Carolina Summerville is a city located in Dorchester County, South Carolina, United States, though inhabitants often refer to it as a town. In 2005, however, the Census Bureau estimated the population at 37,714.
..... Click the link for more information..

Schoeller & Hoesch produces a variety of long fiber papers, but specializes in teabag paper, coffee filter papers, papers for the cigarette industry, and other specialty papers. Tea papers are available in healseal and non-heatseal versions in plain and patterned, and contain either oxygen bleached or unbleached pulps. No chlorinebleached pulps are used.

According to the company's commercial manager of Long Fiber Papers, Horst Dannhauser, Schoeller & Hoesch is one of the biggest tea bag paper manufacturers worldwide. "Germany has a limited demand, though it is still our biggest single market. We export quite a lot around the world from our production plant in the Black Forest near Baden Baden. We have slitting slit
A long, straight, narrow cut or opening.

tr.v. slit, slit·ting, slits
1. To make a slit or slits in.

2. To cut lengthwise into strips; split. and warehouse operations in Summerville, South Carolina, but all our paper is manufactured in Germany. About 10% of our business is in the U.S., which is also the most promising. As you know, 80% of the tea drunk in the U.S. is iced, and the readyto-drink is very popular. Other regions that will be important markets for us include the Far East and Russia."


Matt Christian, marketing manager with Roswell, Georgia-based KimberlyClark, says they have recently rededicated their efforts towards the teabag and coffee filter industries. Christian explains, "Our business is mostly in the U.S. at this point and most of it is in heat-sealed paper. It's a good base for us technologically. Our sales volume is small at this point, but we want to expand our activities in teabag paper. Since January, we've concentrated more on people, hiring staff, and we're expanding our capabilities while working toward gains in efficiency.

"Currently, we are not making patterned paper. We will build from a product quality standpoint. Kimberly-Clark is a well-respected name already. Since January, we've concentrated more on people, and more research funding Research funding is a term generally covering any funding for scientific research, in the areas of both "hard" science and technology and social science. The term often connotes funding obtained through a competitive process, in which potential research projects are evaluated and . We are very small at this point, but growing, in tea paper. We also are quite involved in manufacturing paper for coffee filters and vending papers."


At the present time, the Johnson & Johnson Company plays a minor role in providing material for the teabags, but its gauze fabric does possess qualities that may perform well in the U.S. specialty tea market, as discussed earlier. "We have 10 to 15% of the Canadian teadrinking market in dollar value, and 5 to 6% in units," according to Andre Prud'Homme. "Much of it is under the King Cole a legendary king of Britain, who is said to have reigned in the third century.

See also: King brand, which represents 40% of the Maritime market."

"About 16% of tea consumption across Canada Across Canada was an afternoon program that formerly aired on The Weather Network. The segment ran from early 1999 until mid 2002. The show ran from 3:00PM ET until 7:00 PM ET. is in the Maritime region," says Andre Prud'Homme, "which includes New Brunswick New Brunswick, province, Canada
New Brunswick, province (2001 pop. 729,498), 28,345 sq mi (73,433 sq km), including 519 sq mi (1,345 sq km) of water surface, E Canada. , Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island, province (2001 pop. 135,294), 2,184 sq mi (5,657 sq km), E Canada, off N.B. and N.S. Geography

One of the Maritime Provinces, Prince Edward Island lies in the Gulf of St.
..... Click the link for more information., the most eastern part of Canada. They have a very strong tea-drinking tradition and use premium blends Premium Blend is a television show on the American cable television channel Comedy Central. The program features a well-known stand up comedian as an emcee who introduces four or five lesser known comedians looking for a big break on television. . Our gauze has been very successful in the Maritime. Typically the tea leaf pieces are larger in size, which means there is less sifting, yet infusion performance is excellent. Our fabric is used for the teabag here."

One of several hurdles still facing Johnson & Johnson's gauze is its ability to run on a wide variety of packing machinery. As a part of his five month plan, Prud'Homme plans to travel to Italy, home of the IMA machines, and to begin trials with various target companies. "This will be a critical time to evaluate equipment, address this issue of adaptation to machinery, develop technical service support etc. By the first two quarters of 1994, we plan to run trials with various target companies."


Aldine is a co-patent holder with Dexter for tea tissue paper dating back to 1939, according to Gould. He describes the niche the Carlstadt, New Jersey-based company has carved carve
v. carved, carv·ing, carves
a. To divide into pieces by cutting; slice: carved a roast.

b. out for itself and the rest of the A.T.I. Group, made up of Aldine Technologies, the ATI (ATI Technologies Inc., Markham Ontario, A leading manufacturer of graphics chips and display adapters. Founded in 1985 by K. Y. Ho, Benny Lau and Lee Lau, ATI chips and boards are widely used by OEMs. Machinery Division and Copack International.

"Aldine creates the design and procures materials, but we use other people's machines to manufacture. We are a toll manufacturer of teabag paper," explains Gould. This also helps to explain how the ATI Group manages to be innovative on all fronts: tea paper, the teabag (e.g. Integral Retrieval Device) and packing technology (e.g. Super 5000, see Tea & Coffee,


Though the oxygen-bleaching process has become the bleaching process of choice for tea manufacturers, especially for the U.S. and U.K. markets, unbleached tea paper will continue to gain adherents. But other environmental concerns and the attendant marketing strategies show little sign of abating, and paper manufacturers may face them as well. "What about all the water? They use a heck of a lot of water at those paper manufacturing facilities," one industry observer exclaimed in a recent conversation.

The water used in paper manufacture, rid of dioxin, may come under increasing scrutiny in terms of sheer volume and because of other effluents emitted from the mills. Finally, the issue of natural versus synthetic fibers, such as the polypropylene and polyethylene polyethylene (pŏl'ēĕth`
əlēn), widely used plastic. It is a polymer of ethylene, CH2=CH2, having the formula (-CH2-CH2-)n
..... Click the link for more information. fibers added to heat sealable paper, has also been raised by a small segment of the industry.

The abovementioned a·bove·men·tioned
Mentioned previously.

The one or ones mentioned previously. concerns notwithstanding, synthetic gauze should gain in visibility. This applies to the Johnson & Johnson gauze product and synthetic teabag materials being produced by toll manufacturer Aldine and several others.

Of the trends I've noted thus far, the developments in packing machinery must be near the top of list in terms of impact on tea paper. Most manufacturers acknowledge the overall shift toward heat sealable papers, with or without string, tag or strip, and they see it primarily as the outcome of the higher packing speeds afforded by the newest packing machinery. Yet the folded, stapled, string and tag bag will not disappear so quickly, despite inefficiencies of production. Americans in particular, I am reminded by paper manufacturers, have become attached to the string and tag--it's part of an American tea-drinking tradition, if such a thing can be said to exist. Perhaps we will be seeing more heat sealed teabags with strings and tags as one compromise, which Aldine's "Integral Retrieval Device" may anticipate quite dramatically.

Several manufacturers offer compelling reasons for us to expect demand for low dust tea paper to increase. The interest in patterned paper, and its ability to provide some product differentiation, along with the growth in her herbal, decaf, flavored teas in bags, lead me to the same conclusion.

One final note: most representatives speak of dedicating increasing resources to research and development. This suggests to me that manufacturers expect teabag papers to remain a profitable venture into the foreseeable future, no matter the shape, size, or color of the teabags themselves.

The author would like to thank the following individuals for the time and information they contributed to this article, not to mention all the pleasant conversation: Peter Hart of Bollore, Steve Higgins of Bolmet/Bollore, Randy Davis of Dexter, Peter Gould of Aldine, Matt Christian of Kimberly-Clark, Andre Prud'homme of Johnson & Johnson, Horst Dannhauser and Joseph Szorc of Schoeller & Hoesch, Drake Sadler of Traditional Medicinals and Christopher Hensby of Hersa-T.


Many people assume that tree-free and recycled paper are new environmental "fads." But paper has only been made from wood pulp since the 1850s. The first recycled paper dates back almost 2,000 years to when a Chinese court official, Ts'ai Lun, developed paper made from rags, old fishing nets, hemp and China grass for the Chinese Royal Court in the second century. (Clearly, this was tree-free and chlorine-free paper as well!)

By the fifth century, the Chinese had invented printing; by the eighth century the art of making paper spread to the Arab world. The Arabs improved the art by making paper from linen and soon paper usage spread through the Middle East and into Spain. By the eleventh century, Japanese papermakers were using wastepaper to produce new paper. Old documents and papers were repulped and made into new papers to be sold in paper shops.

European papermaking didn't blossom until the 15th century. When Gutenberg produced his first Bible in 1456, most manuscripts were still made from parchment - the skin of a sheep or goat that's been prepared for writing - or vellum, the skin of a calf. It took the skins of 300 sheep to print one copy of Gutenberg's Bible.

However, by the sixteenth century, paper mills using old cloth rags were springing up all over Europe. Linen was the predominant source of material for paper, although cotton began to show up in paper by the 18th century, as Europeans began to recycle cotton rags.

Recycled rags were virtually the only source of papermaking fiber in the Western world for over 700 years, until wood pulp processes were developed in the mid-nineteen century. The first paper mill in North America was built by the Spanish in Mexico City in 1575. The first paper mill in what became the United States, built by Dutch papermaker William Rittenhouse, was constructed in 1690 near Philadelphia and used rags to produce paper, launching the American recycled paper industry. The first patent for deinking wastepaper was issued in 1800.

The rag shortages that led to an intensive search for alternative sources of papermaking fiber resulted in four processes that could be used to make wood pulp into paper. Wood was finally chosen as the raw material of choice because of the vast forests that covered the United States at the time, even though wood pulp is not a perfect fiber source. Only about 50% of wood is cellulose that can be made into paper, much less than the cellulose content of cotton or linen. The first groundwood pulp mill in the United States was established in 1867 in Massachusetts and the first commercial production of wood pulp by chemical, or "cooking," processes was begun in 1887 in Ontario, Canada.


Nearly half of the trees cut in North America go to papermaking. Paper companies cite lower percentages, claiming that most of the trees are cut for lumber to make buildings, furniture and other non-paper products. However, the lumber and paper industries work closely together. A significant part of the tree cannot be used for lumber and is chipped, instead, for papermaking. While some of this collaboration between the lumber and paper industries represents a good way to use what otherwise would be "waste" from resource extraction (branches, stumps, "forest residue," sawdust), trees are also being cut for papermaking when they're too small for lumber.

The paper industry now calls trees a "renewable resource," giving people the impression that there is no problem with cutting trees. It is true that trees can be replanted, in contrast to oil, ores and minerals. But it is not that simple. Counting trees individually misses much of their value. While some trees are grown on plantations for the paper industry, particularly in the southern United States, these replanted trees do not make a true forest. They are usually managed intensively, with heavy use of petrochemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. They are monocultures, without the mix of types of trees, different ages, bushes, undergrowth, snags, etc. that true forests have. Therefore they also do not have the wildlife, birds, amphibians and biological diversity of a true forest.

Unlike a true forest, replanted trees are not self-sustaining. Buyers should be aware that tree pulp can only be reliably considered "renewable" when the wood has been independently certified as sustainably-harvested. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) uses the most environmentally comprehensive third-party standards to certify forestry companies and manufacturers that provide products from sustainably harvested forests.

People often justify their commitment to reducing paper use and using recycled or tree-free paper by saying that it will "save trees." But it's really "saving forests" that should be the resource focus. Trees are not a "crop" in the normal sense of the word. They are not planted on agricultural farmland. Before a tree farm is planted, forests have to fall.

Similarly, the paper industry claims that they plant more trees than they cut. However, "plant" is the operative word. A large percentage of the trees planted do not survive to maturity, nor are they intended to, as the trees are thinned with growth.

The federal government owns more than 20 percent of all commercial timber acres in the United States. On these lands, taxpayers heavily subsidize the virgin paper industry through such forest services as:

  • building roads at below-cost in national forests,
  • selling timber at well below market value,
  • heavily subsidizing energy costs (EPA reports that recycling paper saves 22-64% of energy costs over virgin paper production),
  • subsidizing water costs (recycling uses 42% less water),
  • giving special tax subsidies and write-offs to the timber industry,
  • banning exports of most logs from federal land in the West, which depresses the price of timber in the remaining domestic markets.

The result is that forests that are supposedly held on behalf of the public are instead given away at well below cost. Then the public is required to pay high prices for the products made from them in order to enrich the companies that the public has already subsidized. This might have made sense in the 1890s, when such policies were intended to settle the West and develop industries, jobs and transportation. They do not make sense now, when they put more environmentally sound production processes at a distinct disadvantage.

Once trees are diverted to papermaking, they are chipped into small pieces and converted into paper fiber at a pulping mill. Even here, there could be improvements. A 1991 Worldwatch State of the World report on forestry determined that improved milling efficiency and better technology could save 25% of trees. Another 25% could be saved by improving packaging.

For fine paper quality pulp (e.g., that used for making printing and writing papers), North American mills (and 77% of global pulp production) most often use a chemical "kraft" process that cooks the chips down into usable fibers. Wood consists of about 50% cellulose, 30% lignin (a tough, resinous adhesive that provides structural support to the tree), and 20% easily extractable substances such as aromatic oils and carbohydrates. Since high quality paper is produced from cellulose, other substances, particularly the lignin, need to be removed. Paper with a high lignin content will yellow and age quickly when exposed to light.

Some fine papers are made in a mechanical "groundwood" process, although this type of mill more often makes newsprint. Very literally, the wood is ground up in this kind of pulping and the lignin is left in the paper. Mechanical pulping is less expensive and more efficient, using up to 95% of the wood versus 50% for the kraft chemical process, but it produces a weaker paper with a high lignin content. Some copy, computer and other office papers that do not require long life are made with groundwood pulp. Groundwood is also used to make many coated publication grades, although there are also many coated sheets that are groundwood-free.

Many pulping mills are attached to a papermaking facility and the pulp is dedicated to making that mill's paper. But other pulping mills make "market pulp," to sell on the open global market, and even mills that supply a particular papermaking facility often have excess pulp to sell. Many mills integrated with a wood-pulping facility have "closed" systems; the pipes carrying fiber from the pulping mill to the start of the papermaking process cannot economically accommodate market pulps, such as recycled.


As the pulp is made, it is also bleached. Chlorine was the bleach of choice in the past, both because it gets the pulp (which otherwise is tree-colored) the whitest and because it is the most effective chemical at removing the five percent or so of lignin that remains after cooking down the chips in the kraft process.

However, when chlorine is combined with carbon-based substances such as wood, it produces by-products called chlorinated organic compounds, including dioxins and furans. When released into water, dioxins do not break down. As early as 1985, EPA labeled dioxin "the most potent carcinogen ever tested in laboratory animals." When fish eat contaminated materials, the dioxin travels up the food chain, bioaccumulating in the fatty tissues of fish, sea birds and mammals. Therefore, even a minuscule amount in water can create a significant risk in humans and wildlife. Increasingly, research links dioxins to endocrine, reproductive, nervous and immune system damage.

The paper industry has instituted pollution prevention changes that have reduced dioxin emissions by 92% since 1988. In the past few years, virtually all mills in the U.S. and Canada have stopped using elemental chlorine gas for bleaching. Almost all have switched to using a chlorine derivative instead, primarily chlorine dioxide. Now the industry says that most mills are at "non-detectable" dioxin levels in their effluent. But "non-detectable" only indicates the technological capacity of current testing methods at relatively elevated government-required detection levels. It is not the same as "zero concentration" of dioxins. In fact, dioxins can be - and often are - measured at much smaller concentrations. In addition, the "non-detect" tests measure only dioxins and do not account for other potentially dangerous chlorinated organic compounds produced in enormous quantities. Dioxin is only the tip of the iceberg. Almost 1,000 organochlorines are produced in the chlorine bleaching process used by the pulp and paper industry. The health and environmental consequences of many of these chemicals have never been studied.

While chlorine dioxide can significantly reduce the emission of organochlorines (often cutting emissions in half), it does not completely eliminate the production of these toxins. Although the paper industry has had patents for chlorine-free bleaching technologies since the early 1970's (one of these patents described chlorine bleaching as causing "a serious pollution problem" in 1970), it has been slow to implement chlorine-free processes. Europe has embraced TCF technology much more quickly than the U.S.

EPA developed an integrated regulation, called the "cluster rules," that reduces toxic and hazardous pollutant releases by setting guidelines and standards affecting both water discharges and air emissions. The goal of these "cluster rules" is to prevent pollution in the first place, rather than devising more and more complex technological "fixes" after the fact.

The cluster rules for wastewater standards recommend two options for "best available technology economically achievable (BAT)" for limiting effluent pollution. Both of these involve 100% substitution of chlorine dioxide for elemental chlorine, with one of the options adding oxygen delignification or extended cooking (both part of the pulping process designed to further break down lignins). It also includes a program to reward mills using technologies that exceed BAT, namely totally chlorine-free processes.

Chlorine and its derivatives are highly corrosive to a paper mill's pipes and so make it very difficult to close the effluent loop within the mill and avoid discharging wastewater altogether. TCF, however, by eliminating the corrosive factor, makes closed-loop systems much more achievable, providing a significant environmental advantage in preventing dioxins and organochlorines in the first place, and allowing the wastewater to be recycled and cleaned within the mill as well. Barry Commoner's Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, at Queens College, New York, studied pulp and paper mills on the Great Lakes. It found that converting these mills to TCF would raise the price of pulp by only a few percent and that the use of chlorine-free bleaching agents, although twice the cost of chlorine-based equivalents, would allow the mills to use lower, and therefore less expensive, grades of wastepaper.


If paper is not made from trees, what else can it be made from? As the Brief History of Paper above makes clear, paper has been made from materials other than trees for most of its existence. This is still true in many other parts of the world, where trees are not as abundant as they are in North America. But even here, we have plenty of non-tree resources for making paper, if we develop the infrastructure necessary to support it. Not only could tree-free furnishes reduce the demand on forests, they could also solve some of our agricultural problems in an environmentally sound way.

Tree-free fibers range from very short to very long and each has its own variation of processing requirements. But, technically, any grade of paper can be produced by using an appropriate mixture and processing of tree-free fibers and result in a quality sheet of paper. Some crops, such as kenaf, even combine both long and short fibers within different parts of the same plant, rather than requiring the combination of different species, as with trees, for optimizing performance qualities.

A number of papers made from agricultural crops have been introduced into the marketplace in the past few years and proven themselves to be functionally equivalent to wood-based papers. Some of them are high-quality 100% tree-free papers; others are mixed with recycled pulp and/or wood-pulp in a traditional papermill to make printing and writing papers, as well as newsprint.


Rittenhouse's Philadelphia paper mill, the first paper manufacturing facility in the U.S., made recycled paper from cotton rags. Peddlers traveled the New England states regularly, buying old cotton rags from people's homes to make into paper. Cotton paper mills still flourish in the U.S., making high-end fine papers. Most of their pulp comes from cotton linters, short clippings that are a residue left from secondary ginning by seed oil companies after the longer fibers are removed from cotton bolls for fabric. The creative use of this residue certainly qualifies as an environmental virtue. At the same time, the tremendous amount of pesticides and water (quite often in arid locations) necessary to grow the cotton for clothing manufacturers, its primary market, creates other environmental problems.

However, some cotton papers are made through processes that attempt to reduce the environmental demand. One incorporates the clippings left over from making clothing from cotton that is grown organically, significantly reducing the environmental burden. Carefully grown from heirloom seeds that reproduce cotton's original natural colors of tan, green and cream colors, this pulp is not bleached at all, lending these soft earth colors to the paper.

Other cotton papers incorporate materials such as postconsumer paper (to qualify as "recycled" under most recycled paper definitions), blue jeans, and even old money that has been taken out of circulation.


Beginning in the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture evaluated hundreds of fiber crops and determined that kenaf was the best option for tree-free papermaking in the U.S. The fact that kenaf fibers have many similarities to wood fibers increased its potential adaptability to the current system. But despite the government's endorsement, kenaf production has developed very slowly. Related to hibiscus, kenaf is a fast-growing plant that can be harvested annually over several months, then compressed and stored for up to four years. Farmers in the South are already growing it, without the need for expensive and damaging pesticides. It yields far more fiber per acre than a comparable-size tree plantation.

The amount of U.S. agriculture currently dedicated to kenaf is still minuscule, although it is a popular papermaking furnish in other parts of the world. But it has great possibility as an environmentally sustainable crop that can bring new life to rural economies shattered by the demise of their original industries. In fact, the more than 40 jobs that growing kenaf has brought to Tallahatchie County, Mississippi have been part of revitalizing one of the most economically depressed areas in the U.S.

Currently, domestic kenaf paper is produced on rented time in paper mills dedicated to other furnishes. Pulping kenaf requires less energy than pulping wood and it is more easily bleached with totally chlorine-free processes.


Hemp is a versatile, invaluable plant used all over the world for many life-sustaining needs such as oil for food and fuel, edible seeds, and fiber for textiles, rope and paper. In fact, the first paper back in second-century China was made from hemp. But, in an attempt to suppress the cultivation of hallucinogenic marijuana, hemp was outlawed in the U.S. in the 1930s. Despite government assurance that the law would not curtail fiber and seed production from industrial hemp (a distinctly different, non-hallucinatory plant) and a government program promoting the farm production of industrial hemp as a patriotic duty during World War II (because imports for textiles and ropes had been cut off by the war), federal drug agents harassed fiber producers so relentlessly that its production died out in the 1950s.

A few hemp papers are currently imported into the U.S. from European and Asian sources. Some determined entrepreneurs have arranged for hemp-pulp shipments from other countries in order to make high quality paper here. But there is a growing movement to rescind outdated prohibitions against growing such a productive and useful plant. Efforts are particularly strong in Kentucky, which provided much of the seed for hemp when it was still legal. Now that Kentucky's current predominant crop, tobacco, is falling out of favor, farmers in that state are looking back to their past for the possibility of a promising future.

Both Hawaii and Vermont passed initiatives in 1996 to permit studies of the feasibility of growing industrial hemp. The American Farm Bureau Federation voted overwhelmingly in favor of "research into the viability and economic potential of industrial hemp production in the U.S.," including planting test plots. Canada is quickly lowering barriers to growing it at test sites.

Other Crops

Some papers, mostly imported, are available made from other crops, as well. These include sugar beet and corn by-products as well as algae and bagasse (sugar cane). There are also papers made from tropical grasses, including bamboo. There is concern about whether the Asian bamboo can be guaranteed to be grown sustainably, rather than encouraging damage to more indigenous forests.


More than 200 million tons of cereal straw are dumped or burned in open fields each year. None of that is necessary because all of the straw could be pulped and used for paper, if the proper technology and infrastructure were in place. In fact, agricultural residue could replace a significant amount of trees for newsprint and printing and writing paper and solve a vexing agricultural and air-quality problem at the same time.

One of the advantages of pulping wood, welcomed even in the 1800s, is that trees provide their own "storage unit." They do not require a seasonal harvest time and form a compact "bundle of fibers" for transportation and production. These advantages encourage centralized production facilities. Pulping agricultural residues reverses that system. Although the cyclical harvest times of straw and other crops hampered paper production 150 years ago, modern harvest methods can compact bales and wrap them in protective covers that allow year-round storage. But their greater bulk encourages more local and labor-intensive facilities, thereby aiding local rural economies. Pulping from agricultural residues also does not require new land to be put into production and the lighter fiber colors are more easily bleached with totally chlorine-free processes.

Small quantities of paper made from agricultural residues (some of it combined with postconsumer recovered paper to produce a recycled blend as well) are already available on the market. But with sufficient investment, the potential for these papers is immense. Two private companies funded a successful test of newsprint partially made from agricultural residues, with the support of major West Coast newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, and the western edition of the New York Times.


No matter what the furnish, paper will continue to need to be recycled. Once recovered paper reaches the mill, it must be pulped to prepare the fiber for recycling. In some cases, recovered paper can be dumped directly into a beater, a huge tank that separates the paper fibers by simply washing them like a giant mixer. But most recycling mills use some form of deinking in order to remove the inks, laser and copier toner, and contaminants such as labels, glues, plastic windows, paper clips and other materials. Modern deinking combines processes that wash, separate, sieve, tumble and rotate the fibers. When completed, the clean, usable fiber is piped to the pulper or the papermaking machine, while the excess materials are skimmed off or dropped through centrifugal force into a "sludge" that is then burned for fuel, otherwise used or landfilled.

Some recycling mills have integrated their deinking system with a paper machine, which means the recycled pulp is piped directly to the machine. But most are non-integrated: they have open pulpers which can accept fibers and pulp from many sources. They often buy the virgin portion of their paper furnish on the open market, as semi-dry bales of rough fiber sheets, and dump it into the pulper with the recycled fiber.

U.S. printing and writing paper, taken as a whole, currently averages just over 10% recovered content (many papers have none, some have 100%). But this American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) statistic includes preconsumer tonnage, the scraps left over from production, converting and printing processes before the paper ever reaches consumers. The amount of postconsumer fiber (recovered from offices and homes), by far the greatest amount of fine paper being disposed of, in printing and writing paper is much lower. Clearly, the amount of recycled content in printing and writing papers can and should be far higher.

Is Deinking A Problem?

Deinking removes inks, dyes and other contaminants from recovered paper, as well as fibers too small to be incorporated into new paper. For printing and writing paper, between 20 and 30% of the original scrap paper ends up as paper sludge after deinking.

Although deinking is not a totally benign process, most of its environmental problems stem from what is added to the paper when it is made the first time around or from how it is used before it's collected for recycling. In order to solve environmental problems caused by paper disposal, we need to eliminate the toxic materials used in inks and dyes, and discontinue the use of chlorine for paper bleaching.

Deinking is primarily a mechanical process. The only potential area of environmental concern stems from the chemicals added to clean the scrap paper. In the past, recycling mills have used toxic solvents and detergents, but state-of-the-art deinking systems no longer require these. The caustics, detergents and surfactants used in deinking are not considered to be toxic chemicals by the EPA. Although some end up in the sludge, the rest end up in wastewater, where they are neutralized with hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. The resultant chemical reaction produces harmless salts such as sodium chloride or sodium sulfate.

The major source of paper sludge contamination comes from the dyes added to the paper by manufacturers and inks added by printers, as well as organochlorine contaminants added in the bleaching process by paper producers.

Heavy metal contamination from inks is one of the most serious problems in disposing of paper sludge. Over the years, the printing industry has worked to reduce some toxic elements of printing inks. For example, lead from printing inks, which accounted for 12% of all the lead in the municipal waste stream in 1970, now makes up less than 1%. Other environmentally toxic metal pigments such as arsenic, cadmium, zinc, manganese, mercury, potassium, copper, chromium and nickel show up in sludge because they are still used to make some printing inks.

Another of the toxics that continues to show up in paper sludge is polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These come almost exclusively from the 44 million pounds of PCBs used by carbonless paper manufacturers between 1957 and 1971. Although not used after 1971, they are still showing up in wastepaper from offices cleaning out old files. A smaller potential source of PCB contamination in papers is the 50,000 pounds used in printing inks between 1968 and 1971.

The other major hazard in paper sludge is organochlorine contamination from the original paper bleaching process. This problem is compounded if the deinking mill itself uses chlorine or a derivative in the bleaching of recycled paper. Some recycled paper mills are leaders in avoiding the use of chlorine and chlorine derivatives.

Most deinking sludge currently ends up in privately owned landfill sites, although some mills are allowed to use municipal landfills. The sludge is about 40% solids. A few mills burn deinking sludge, which eliminates 75% of its volume. However, the 25% that is left contains virtually all the toxic materials contained in the original sludge (including all the heavy metals), and requires special handling. In addition, incineration results in toxic air emissions which must then be controlled. Several mills use the sludge as fertilizer. The major danger with this disposal method is organochlorine and heavy metal contamination. Other alternative methods for sludge disposal include using it as a carrier for agricultural pesticides and herbicides by drying and pelletizing it. This is obviously a potential environmental hazard, since it involves adding potentially toxic pesticides and herbicides to an already contaminated carrier.

Despite these potential problems from sludge, deinking is a more benign and environmentally sound process for handling used paper than either landfilling or incineration. Since virtually all of the sludge problems stem from contaminants in the paper before it comes back for recycling, those same contaminants exist in paper that is landfilled or burned. However, the toxics and pollution from inks, dyes and chlorine cannot be controlled in a landfill, where the paper is spread throughout the area. In incinerators, they become concentrated in either toxic air emissions or hazardous ash, which then must be landfilled. When, instead, the paper is recycled, the potential problems are reduced to a comparatively small, solid mass which then can be handled with more stability.

There are also some recycled papers on the market that are produced from postconsumer, non-deinked paper. While certainly the most environmentally-sound paper available, it will never take over more than a small share of the market, since manufacturers can only use the "cream of the crop" clean postconsumer waste in order to make this paper.

The Environmental Benefits of Recycling

In the early 1970s, an EPA study for Congress concluded that using one ton of 100% recycled paper saves 4,100 kwh of energy (enough to power the average home for six months) and 7,000 gallons of water. It also keeps more than 60 pounds of pollution out of the air. Paper mills have become much more efficient since that time, but recycling paper still results in far less resource and environmental demand than making virgin paper.

That one ton of recycled paper also saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, which is increasingly important as many local landfills near their capacity. Because size, height and usable parts of trees vary, it is hard to estimate exactly how many trees go into making a ton of recycled paper, but paper industry representatives have estimated that one ton of recycled paper saves approximately 17 trees.

In 1995, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), through its Paper Task Force, compared the energy requirements and environmental releases from 100% recycled fiber-based and 100% virgin fiber-based systems. EDF used a comprehensive approach which considered many life-cycle aspects to better assess the full range of environmental consequences. For recycling operations, this included collecting, transporting and processing recovered paper, as well as disposal of residuals from recovery facilities and paper manufacturing (sludge). For virgin paper operations, it included harvesting trees, transporting logs, debarking and chipping, as well as collection of the paper after its use and transport and processing at landfills and waste-to-energy incinerators. For both systems, it included appropriate pulping and manufacturing processes. EDF's analysis showed "clear and substantial environmental advantages from recycling all the grades of paper" they examined, including printing and writing paper, and listed more than a dozen parameters.

Recycled paper also needs less bleaching than virgin paper. Because the paper was bleached in its first production cycle, it can use less bleach and more easily avoid chlorine bleaches the second time around. Several recycling mills are processing their paper chlorine-free (PCF), although the paper probably still carries some chlorine from its original production. However, few of these mills then combine the PCF fiber with TCF virgin pulp. Since many buy their virgin pulp on the open market, it is reasonable to assume that much of it is still chlorine-bleached.

Bleach in Teabags Health Risks

Warning, you should be aware that bleach in teabags health risks do exist due to tea manufacturers using the cheapest methods for tea production. That’s why you should always buy teas that clearly state they use, unbleached tea bags.

If you’re wondering what could be the possible health consequences of using a bleached tea bag consider this; bleached tea bags can contain chlorine dioxide. I don’t think anyone would like to ingest chlorine which is known to be a a respiratory irritant that attacks mucous membranes and can even burn the skin.

Long term exposure to chlorine has also been shown to significantly increase your cancer risk. Not a great thing to combine with a normally healthy activity such as drinking tea!

Drinking tea should help detoxify” your body, not the other way around. When shopping for tea to purchase you should look for the best all-natural unbleached hand-picked teas. In addition to bleach in your tea bag you can also find metal contamination due to many tea manufacturers resorting to harvesting tea from metal harvesting machines.

For that reason it’s helpful to select hand-picked teas that contain no chemicals and are completely organic and natural. Your tea bag should only contain natural fibers resulting in a healthy cup that will give you all of the wonderful benefits that tea provides.

According to ancient Chinese tradition tea has been consumed for up to 4000 years. In Chinese culture tea has been used to cure headaches, body aches, constipation and even depression. Make sure you’re getting all of the health benefits the next time you have a cup of tea by carefully making sure your tea contains no harmful additives.

No comments:

Post a Comment