Making it better.

I like books. I like buying books. As with many, I am sure, I buy more books than I could ever read. While my Kindle contains a compendium of light-hearted leisure reads, I find that my paper books enjoy pride of place in our home. As I look at my bookshelves, the books spark a memory or invoke an emotion. I have read some of them three times over; others haven’t kept my attention past the first five chapters.

I am currently reading On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand-Year History by Nicholas A. Basbanes who labels himself a ‘self-confessed bibliophile’. While I am only a few chapters in (remember, I have two young sons), I’m finding it absorbing and enriching.

Even the preface contains a wealth of paper nuggets. Basbanes refers to Robert Lang, a master origami folder, who said that ‘anything is possible in origami’. Basbanes argues that same can be said about paper itself, being ‘light, absorbent, strong, plentiful and portable; you can fold it, mail it, coat it with wax and waterproof it, wrap gunpower or tobacco in it, boil tea in it’. Add paper’s hygienic applications, and we have a different world than what we would have without it.

The Chinese claim paper as one of their “four outstanding inventions of antiquity” and we can thank its inventor Cai Lun that the TAPPSA Journal hasn’t been printed on stone, posted in envelopes of cured animal skins. Instead he made paper from tree bark, hemp, old rags and fishing nets. Since then paper and tissue makers have continued to improve paper products and the processes to make them; while also striving to conserve more water, recoup more energy and reduce waste.

In this issue, on page 4, you will find the Call for Papers for the 2016 TAPPSA Conference and Exhibition. Themed ‘Pulp, Paper and Beyond’, next year’s event hopes to attract ground-breaking research, exciting technologies and inspiring case studies.

You will also read how Mondi and Aesseal saved a considerable amount of water at the Richards Bay mill. Paper meets digital in a guest piece by Bill Hollifield from PAS, Inc. on maximising operator effectiveness by using process graphics.

On page 14, we have a prime example of how scientists are developing new uses for wood fibre with Innventia’s development of a bio-based carbon fibre.

From its earliest origins on the banks of the Nile to nanocellulosic innovation, paper (and its predecessor papyrus) has, over time, evolved and thus been labelled many things by many people. Cassiodorus, a sixth-century Roman statesman and writer praised papyrus as both a “faithful witness of human deeds” and “the enemy of oblivion”.

Before the year draws to a close, take a moment to preserve some of your 2015 memories on a sheet of paper. If the memories are not good ones, make a list of ways in which to make 2016 better. There is also a way to make something better.

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