There has been a growinginterest in the addition of plant fibers as an alternative to wood fibers topaper for reinforcement and aggregate.
Information from the Philippine PaperManufacturers Association Inc. (Geganto, 2015) point out that common speciesused in producing paper in the Philippines are fibers from Acacia (A.mangium), Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta), Ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) and Gmenlia (Gemlina arborea). Madson & Gamstedt(2013) advocate the view that plant fibers have higher abundance and productioncompared to wood fibers for paper production. A previous study by Dutt &Tyagi (2011) utilized a plant fiber in making paper where in specifically theyincluded different species of eucalyptus to create paper with high pulp returnand strength capable for printing and writing use. Other aquatic plants werealso used to make paper through a handmade process which resulted with an allpurpose paper with ample tensile strength, breaking length and moisture content(Aziz, Bidin, Bujang & Zakaria, 2015). The same method was also done butwith canola stalks in making paper (Enayati, Hamzeh, Mirshokraei & Molaii,2009).
It is a common finding that plant fibers are not only added to paper toreinforce the strength of paper but also to reduce the use of wood fibers todecrease the consumption of trees.However, wood fibers are alsofound to have advantages against plant fiber for usage in paper production(Madson & Kristofer, 2013). It was pointed out that wood fibers are lowcost and readily available from mills with better processability along with theupper hand of not contending contrary to food crops (Madson & Gamstedt,2013).
Paper waste can also be addressed with the Philippines consuming 1.6million metric tons of paper in the year 2014 while producing 10.3 thousandmetric tons per day of paper waste per day with only 10% of it recycled(Geganto, 2015). Despite the abundance of research on different plant fibersused as an alternative to wood fiber, less attention has been paid to theapplication of Abaca (Musa textilis) fibersas a reinforcement to paper. It is not clear whether the use of Abaca fibers being an aggregate to paperwith the inclusion of recycled paper is effective.
Thus, it is beneficial tocarry out an analysis on the possibility of Abaca fibers with recycled paper tocreate paper as a substitute for the traditional wood fibers used in paperproduction in the Philippines. Theusage of wood fibers in paper as pulp has been linked to deforestation and consumptionof trees. Though wood fibers have a lower cost compared to plant fibers (Madsen& Gamstedt, 2013), in return more trees are required and used up. In thePhilippines, over 1.6 million tons of paper is consumed which is relatively lowfor the country, the demand increases by 2.5% yearly. The Philippines produced1.8 million tons of paper last 2014 (Geganto, 2015) where most of which areproduced from wood fibers.
These wood fibers are acquired from naturallyoccurring forests or controlled pulp plantations. Deforestation in thePhilippines has been gradually increasing since the early 2000s with thereduction of 51,000 hectares per year (Hansen et. al., 2013).
The loss of treeswill not only greatly affect the paper production industry but also otherindustries, ecologically and environmentally.Twenty-seven localgovernments in the Philippines have been evidently starting enforcing cityordinances that promote the use of paper bags instead of plastic bags(Department of Science and Technology, 2012). However, it is noticeable thatcashiers in groceries double up the use of paper bags to compensate thestrength needed of the paper bags. It is also seen that some supermarkets arestill using plastic bags for frozen and wet goods instead of plastic. This isbecause paper bags are weak in terms of weight capacity (Muthu, 2013).
Comparedto the 35-kilogram capacity of plastic bags, paper bags can only hold a maximumof 8 kilograms for 5 minutes (Muthu, 2013). Department of Science andTechnology Secretary Montejo (2012) explained that the use of plastic may havebeen reduced but the demand for paper bag has increased as well as for otherpaper products. The rise of paper demand leads to the increase of production.Gordana & Maja (2014) notes that the production of paper bags is moredetrimental to the environment as opposed to the production of polyethylenebags.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature (2015) notes that the process of producingthese paper bags or paper products in general are sources of unwanted loggingwhich deteriorates forests in return boosts climate change. TheForest Product Research and Development Institute in the Philippines (2012) isfinding a substitute raw materials in paper production from plant fibersinstead of wood fibers. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (2015) has beendoing numerous promotions and advocacies on the issue of paper and pulpproduction such as the promotion of responsible production and use of paper,interacting with paper producing companies and promotion of the improvement ofpulp plantations.
Numerous studies have also developed the use of plant fibersas pulp instead of wood fiber namely different species of eucalyptus, aquaticplants, and canola stalks (Dutt & Tyagi, 2011; Aziz, Bidin, Bujang &Zakaria, 2015; Enayati, Hamzeh, Mirshokraei & Molaii, 2009). There havebeen efforts on addressing the problem on the strength of paper bags and theproduction of paper products including paper bags but it is not sufficient andevident. Itis of concern to examine different methods of creating paper to reduce the useof wooden pulp to lessen the impact of the paper producing industry on naturalforests.
The production of paper largely relies on the use of wooden fibers asthe main material in paper (Madsen & Gamstedt, 2013). With this, it isessential to find alternative materials due to the issue of deforestation ofthe demand of paper products. The alternative material must not only beenvironmentally friendly but also durable. As Muthu (2013) indicates that paperbag is the weakest packaging material amongst other packaging materials such asplastic bags. With the Philippines producing over 400,000 bales of Abaca, aknown plant fiber in the country, every year since 2013 (Philippine FiberIndustry Development Authority, 2017) and with Abaca determined to have “hightensile strength” (de Souza & d’Almeida, 2014), it may be sufficient to beused as an aggregate for paper due to the fact that it has been used to createtea bags and bank notes (Wood & Roberts, 2005). It is also evident thatabaca has been used in creating other composites such as “polymer forautomotive applications” (Kumar, 2014; Kumar 2015). This can be mixed withshredded paper to utilize paper waste in order reduce and maximize its use.
A considerable amount ofliterature has been published on the inclusion of plant fibers to thereinforcement of paper and as an aggregate. Madsen& Gamstedt (2013) compared and looked into the differences of fibercellulose content of wood fiber and fiber from annual plants. The basis ofinvestigation was the feasibility and the differences of the two types offibers. The advantage of annual plant fibers wood was its abundance andproduction along with high cellulose content (Madsen & Gamstedt, 2013). Itis then proven by a previous study that canola stalks, a plant fiber, wassuitable for paper making (Enayati, Hamzeh, Molaii & Mirshokraw, 2009). Aquaticplants were later tested for their sustainability handmade paper making (Budin,Bujang, Bidin, Aziz & Zakaria, 2015). Plants with a short harvest time,even with low lignin content, are a possible source of fiber.
Five species ofaquatic plants were examined for their chemical composition and measurement offiber. The results showed that it is possible to use these plants as a sourceof fiber for handmade paper making. A study by Ververis (2004) concludes thatplants with high cellulose content and lignin are suitable for the creation ofpaper. Itis evident that the use of Abaca (Musia textilis) is commonly used to produce highquality paper pulp production (del Rio, 2006).
The lignin content of Abaca isfound to be at 13.2%. The tensile mechanical properties of Abaca were accountedto be at high strength medium modulus fiber (de’Souza & d’Almeida, 2014).Hybrid composite of Abaca and manila paper posses very high strength andhardness as compared to mono fiber composite (Rahul et. al, 2014). Abaca isalso used in producing tea bags, bank notes and specialized paper (Wood andRoberts, 2005).Kumar et.
al. (2014;2015),have studies that showed the used of Abaca fiber in composites such as someused for automotive applications. Natural fibers are said to be one of theuprising materials in the field of engineering. Abaca as one of the naturalfibers has seen an increase in usage due to its inexpensive and environmentallyfriendly charactersitics. The findings displayed that the addition of Abaca toglass fiber have better performances compared to other composites in the shearand hardness tests. Gintings, Mas’ud, Rotiali& Siagon (2003) explained the feasibility of utilizing sludge and old newspapers with abaca fibers for pulp and paper making.
It is evident in Indonesiathat most paper products are produced with wooden fibers. This reliance on woodas a source for fiber has lead to a significant amount of deforestation inIndonesia along with illegal logging. The results of the experiment showed thatthe mixture of sludge, old newspapers with abaca fibers have potential in theindustry in an attempt to reduce the need for the use of wood originatingfibers.
A study by Muthu et. al.(2013) assessed the eco-functional characteristics of different shopping bags.
The comparison focused on the bags’ reusability, impact strength and weightholding capacity. The test results revealed that plastic bags have a betterscore in the single use category compared to paper bags while woven bags havethe best score in the reusability category. It was concluded that paper bagsare the weakest among all shopping bags with a bearing capacity of only seven(7) kilograms in five (5) minutes. (Muthu et. al.
, 2013). Paper bags are alsofound to have a detrimental effect to the nature compared to plastic bags inthe issue of production (Gordana, 2014; Yolanda, 2008) while Muthu, Hu (2009) argued that plastic bags have a slightly better impact to theenvironment compared to paper bags. However,these studies are challenged by the advantages of wood originating fibers usedby existing paper manufacturers. Wooden fibers are also available at a low costwhich is similar to plant fibers (Madsen & Gamstedt, 2013).
Wooden fibershave better capability in terms of processing due to its short fibers and areeasier to acquire in existing paper and pulp mills (Madsen & Gamstedt,2013). The source of the wooden fibers, which are trees, are found to notcompete against other crops unlike annual plants that have to be replantedseveral times (Madsen & Gamstedt, 2013). Dutt (2011) exerts the use of five(5) different species of Eucalyptus trees that emphasize the use of woodenfibers resulting in paper with good strength. Theuse of plant fibers as pulp in the production of paper has been extensivelystudied. However, less attention has been paid to the use of Abaca fibersincorporated with recycled paper in the creation of paper. The only reportedstudy to date is by Gintings, Mas’ud, Rotiali & Siagon (2003) focused onusing Abaca fibers with sludge waste and old newsprints to create paper.Different ratios of the raw materials were used to produce the outputs whichresulted to different qualities that point to potential usage of these rawmaterials for paper production. With the Philippines producing over 400,000bales of Abaca every year since 2013 (Philippine Fiber Industy DevelopmentAuthority, 2017) and with Abaca determined to have high tensile strength (deSouza & d’Almeida, 2014), it may be sufficient to be used as an aggregatefor paper due to the face that it has been used to create tea bags and banknotes (Wood & Robers, 2005) and it is also evident that Abaca has been usedin creating other composites such as “polymer for automotive applications”(Kumar, 2014; Kumar 2015).
Inspite of these early observations, it is not clear whether the use of Abacafibers with recycled papers can be used in the production of paper to be formedinto paper bags. It is also still unknown if the produced paper bags will beable to hold as much as the traditional and currently in used paper bags whichhold 7 kilograms (Muthu et. al., 2013). The question sill remains on the durabilityof paper from abaca with recycled paper in comparison with the existing brownpaper bags that most supermarkets use in the country today. Hence,additional studies of the production of paper with the use of abaca are neededto confirm the effectivity and efficiency of the material as pulp. It isdesirable to carry out experiments on the creation of the paper and paper bagsalong with the testing of its quality with importance to weight bearingcapacity. It is of interest to compare existing paper bags to the newly createdAbaca with recycled paper bag.
Inthis study, the researchers evaluate the feasibility of using Abaca fibers as areplacement of the conventional wood fibers together with recycled paper. Thispaper aims to create a paper bag out of the produced paper from Abaca fibersand waste paper. The creation of the product is an attempt to lessen the use ofpaper bags such as doubling them up for strength by creating a stronger paperbag. The paper bag also addresses the usage of waste paper and the use of plantfibers as pulp instead of the traditional source of pulp which are trees thatare often linked to deforestation.
This paper introduces amethod on the creation of paper from a plant fiber, specifically Abaca fibers,that are much easier to produce due to its high harvest compared to wood fibers(Madison & Kristofer, 2013).