Newspaper is the New Wood

by Melissa Lockwood, Marine Biology with Sustainability minor ’12

Papers compressed together have unique grains produced by the text and images on the papers (image from WorldChanging)

Did you ever have to do that project in high school with newspaper? You know, the one where the teacher gave you a bunch of newspaper and a roll of tape and told you to build a chair  capable of holding X number of textbooks.  The point was to learn something about physics.  Turns out, there’s a little more to it than a lesson about tensile strength.

Dutch design company Vij5 is giving a whole new life to newspaper.  Developer Mieke Meijer has developed a technique that turns old newsprint into wood.  Pages are rolled together and sent through a machine which compresses them and turns them into logs.  Due to the nature of how they are rolled, the log even has a “grain” formed by the text and pictures associated with the paper.  Granted, the size of these logs is limited, so you won’t make a house of newspaper, but items like furniture are very realistic.

Without a close inspection, you might never guess this stool is made of newspaper wood. (image from Vij5)

Now here’s the greatest part;  the glue holding the wood together is specially designed. Instead of taking a worn out newsprint chair to the dump, it can be recycled. Theoretically, one piece of newsprint could have four or more lives–news print to paper log to furniture to recycled paper…the list could go on.

More and more ideas like this are emerging on the horizon.  Newspaper is a widely available product, creating lots of raw material for paper wood production.  So instead of just tossing yesterday’s copy of the Crimson, recycle it…who knows what it might become.


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