The history of paper
Paper is said to have been invented by the Chinese, who began making it around 105 A.D. from shreds of used fabrics. Marco Polo – author of “Il Milione” – was probably the first in Italy to talk about the invention of paper.
Italy and Spain were the European countries to use paper. In Italy, in particular, the art of paper-making was established around 1100 in Amalfi and Fabriano, which became the most important manufacturing centre in Europe. The use of paper then spread to the rest of Italy, in particular to Tuscany where what today is the paper district of Lucca, the most important in the country, developed on the plain of Lucca.
How it is made
Paper is obtained by diluting fibrous material in a water suspension to obtain a pulp that, once drained, pressed and dried, is processed in paper machines.
The pulp preparation phase is particularly important for the entire paper production cycle because the mixtures and products used in pulp preparation determine the features of the finished product. Pulp processing is followed by other treatments, either mechanical or chemical, which are carried out according to production requirements.
Where we started
The raw materials used to produce paper can be distinguished into fibrous and non-fibrous raw materials.
Fibrous raw materials form what is known as the body of the product. Coming from conifers and hardwoods, they are mostly made of cellulose. Non-fibrous raw materials, on the other hand, are mostly fillers or adhesives used to give the product the required technological and printability characteristics, such as thickness, permeability, colour and ink stabilisation speed.
Where it is used
The use of paper
Paper is a natural, biodegradable and recyclable product, obtained through the processing of raw materials of vegetable origin. Its diffusion has represented a turning point in the development of Western European civilization and has contributed to an increase in the average level of culture and education.
Today, paper is used to make many products that are fundamental to everyday life. It is used in communication and packaging, as well as in our homes for domestic and hygienic purposes.
Over recent years, companies in the paper industry have begun to pay increasing attention to paper-making related environmental issues. More and more companies have started to take specific measures to optimise resource consumption, such as the use of wood from sustainable plantations and the recycling of water used in the production process.
These and other measures have meant that the energy consumption of paper mills and the amount of water used have been reduced by more than 50% since the 1970s.