Ever heard of animal poop paper? If you haven’t, brace yourself. You will hear more and more about numerous paper products from the dung of different animals. Why? As scientist Alexander Bismarck explained, the manure from grass-eating animals, such as elephants, cows and rhinos, contain nearly 40% cellulose. Researchers have developed an ingenious way of turning this cellulose-rich manure into pulp for handmade paper products, reducing the reliance on wood.
Conventional paper manufacturing involves the breakdown of raw wood into pulp to make paper but the process uses a lot of energy. There is one way to save the trees and still continue to make paper: by using freely available, cellulose-rich animal manure that the many regions across the globe are littered with. Grass-fed animals break down food into cellulose saving the paper industry tons of energy in its production.
Poop Paper Saves Animals
In Africa and several countries in Asia such as Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, sanctuaries, reservations and national parks host thousands of elephants, cows and rhinos. Of the 2,500 Asian one-horned rhinos, 2,000 of them reside in the jungles of the Indian state of Assam.
Rhinos and wild elephants are ruthlessly poached for their horns and tusks. In some parts, people are paid to guide poachers to areas that rhinos visit. In 2014, 35 rhinos were killed by poachers in Assam for their horns. By advocating the value of their dung for paper production, environmentalists figured that they could save animals from slaughter. If people depend on the rhino and elephant for a living, they will try to protect it, scientists believe.
Rhinos are known to return to a field for a dump repeatedly resulting in a good 400 kilograms of poop (882 pounds) in 10 days. That could make a lot of paper that ends up in money for the farmers.
Dung paper is a business model that ensures animal protection. It gives villagers new means to earn an income, depending on elephants and rhinos. Here’s the math: in two years, a rhino factory has been known to produce 1,200 kilograms (1.3 tons) of paper every month. Every ton of paper produced saved 27 trees. How cool is that?
Poop Paper Process
The process to manufacture handmade paper from poop is fairly simple because most of the grass they consume is not fully digested. Hence the poop contains a high amount of fibre. Here is how it’s done:
- The dung is treated with sodium hydroxide solution that separates lignin and impurities such as dead cells from the cellulose. It is then bleached with sodium hypochlorite. That’s it! There are no further processes required to turn it into traditional paper because the animals digest the cellulose into nanofibers with their own acid and enzymes.
- The nanocellulose has similar, even better qualities than the nanocellulose from wood, using far lesser chemicals.
- The nanopaper has a unique texture that can be used in a number of applications such as paper products, lamp shades, photo albums, jewellery boxes, journals and wastewater filtering systems.
- The client base is rapidly growing as more people in Europe and North America see value in the business.
Aliya Dung Paper: High-Quality Elephant Dung Paper
Manufactured in Sri Lanka, Aliya Dung Paper is made from 30% elephant dung and 70% recycled paper. 10% of all proceeds is donated towards the welfare of elephants in Sri Lanka. Shop on our website and subscribe to our newsletter to support the wonderful venture. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help our projects more proactively.