Tech vs. Trees: DS Smith converts paper waste into soil additives for farmers, publishing insiders credit Barnes & Noble for bolstering print books, London studio uses recycled paper to create furniture

Sample article from our Forestry & Timberland

April 22, 2022 () –

A roundup of recent trends pitting technology against the printed word:

Trees: DS Smith converts paper waste into soil additives for farmers

Paper waste that would have otherwise gone to landfills is getting a second life as soil additives for American farmland as part of DS Smith’s efforts toward a circular economy. In 2021, DS Smith produced more than 300 tons of soil additives from wood ash, a byproduct of the thermal process that powers a paper mill, according to a company release on April 20. This year, farmers and agriculture markets can expect hundreds more tons of the company’s soil additive, which contains elements for tree growth like calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. DS Smith has partnered with Wakefield BioChar to make the conversion possible and to help its customers achieve ESG goals. DS Smith has also recently launched a sustainability strategy and commitment to the circular economy, and by 2030, it aims to use packaging and recycling to replace plastics, reduce customer carbon and eliminate consumer packaging waste.


Trees: Publishing insiders credit Barnes & Noble for bolstering print books

Though Amazon sells more than 50% of print books in the U.S., publishing insiders see Barnes & Noble as playing an important role for print books. “There’s a real fear that without this book chain the print business would be way off,” said literary agent Jane Dystel, The New York Times reported April 15. Without a bookstore, the act of discovering a new book is diminished, since Amazon shoppers buy books they’re looking for rather than discovering. If more print books are being purchased through Amazon, that could mean fewer new voices getting discovered, said Daniel Simon, founder of independent publisher Seven Stories Press. Print books still outnumber all other formats, accounting for 76% of publishers’ sales revenue in 2021, according to the Association of American Publishers. Barnes & Noble also keeps publishers invested in print book distribution, according to NPD Books Executive Director Kristen McLean. That investment is good for independent booksellers, which saw 2021 sales rise about 10% year-over-year, Publishers Weekly reported Jan. 17.


Trees: London studio uses recycled paper to create furniture

Around the world, designers are creating beds (Thailand), chairs (India) and shelves (U.K.) from paper, and a London studio is contributing one more product to the mix. EBBA Architects has produced a stool called Plod made of recycled paper composite, which can be used by itself or be joined together to form a coffee table, Dezeen reported April 18. The stool is made from a material called Richlite, which comprises recycled paper in a thermosetting resin. The material is typically used for kitchen surfaces like countertops, but EBBA co-founder Benni Allan saw its potential as a furniture material, noting it can be milled, routed and joined like regular hardwood. He added, “The surface has a very tactile quality, with a mottled quality of laminations combined with a very smooth finish.”

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Dan Rivard
Dan Rivard
- VP Market Development -

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