Tree-free paper products – from sugar cane

There are lots of paper products out there, with a few brands boasting recycled content. But few have gone the distance to  have tree-free content – the ultimate in green.

Sugar cane leftovers are pulped into bagasse, which is now used as a sustainable paper alternative

One company that’s stepped up is the Paradigm Group. They’ve been producing green products under their Emerald brand since 1998.

“Back then, the companies that were doing recycled were doing 30 to 50 percent recycled content,” said Ralph Bianculli, founder, President and CEO of Paradigm Group. Emerald took a different path, launching their first four products with 100 percent recycled content.

In 2000, however, the company began a search for an alternative material – one that would be more sustainable without compromising quality while being cost-effective. After a nine-year quest, they found the perfect solution in bagasse, the fibrous remains of the sugar cane left after the stalks have been crushed and their juice removed.

Until very recently, the bagasse was burned, resulting in added air pollution to the surrounding areas. Paradigm Group discovered they could take the leftover sugar cane stalks and pulp it into paper, which they then used to create their line of Tree-free paper products.

“We’ve created an eco-effective process,” says Bianculli. “We’ve taken a product that’s traditionally wasted and burned and turned it into something that can be used, disposed of and will biodegrade.”

“And,” he said, “no trees!”

Emerald brand's Tree-free paper product collection

The Emerald brand Green Collection line of products includes toilet tissue, dinner napkins, facial tissue and “paper” plates, all of which are at least 70 percent tree-free, with some of them testing even higher. The plates are 100 percent bagasse.

These bagasse-based products are compostable – in both home and commercial composts. They’re also biodegradable, making them the ultimate in green.

Paradigm’s tree-free products are used in a variety of businesses, including facilities, offices, colleges and hospitals. They’re also popular with consumers for home use.

Late 2010, Paradigm Group introduced their private label called Apt. 5TM, their tree-free product line that’s currently sold exclusively on the East Coast at Duane Reade, a subsidiary of Walgreen’s.

“Customers like the line for its quality and softness,” said Bianculli. The company is exploring the expansion of their retail distribution – perhaps with Walgreen’s and to interested office product sellers.

Apt. 5 is Emerald brand's private label for their tree-free products

Bianculli said the company is passionate about these products and about green. They currently have over 60 different green products (not all tree-free, however). To date these include hot cups, recycled paper towels and different types of toilet tissue.

The company recently introduced their Smart Packs – smaller packages designed specifically for consumers. And their prices are definitely competitive.

“(We’re) delivering them at less or the same price than you’re buying them at the retail store,” Bianculli said.

The Emerald line of tree-free products delivers top quality, softness and sustainability at a price both business and consumers can appreciate.

“At the end of the day, (people) are really doing a good thing (for the environment) by using these products,” he said.

Consumers can purchase the Emerald brand Tree-free Green Collection online at Businesses interested in these products can find details at

One Response

  1. This sounds cool! I’ve used some of the banana paper products before and I love them, but I don’t think I’ve used anything made with bagasse yet. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it!

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