Can you imagine a world without paper? Just think about your day, what you use in your home and at work. Textbooks, tissues and toilet paper. The box your newest pair of shoes came in, the latest copy of your favourite magazine and the sleeve on the inside of a DVD case. Paper – albeit in various forms – is all around us.

The earliest form of paper can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans between 2400 and 3000 BC. The word ‘paper’ is derived from the name of the reedy plant ‘papyrus’, the material these nations used to make paper. Paper as we know it was developed in China, apparently by a man called Ts’ai Lun, in the first century when it was first made from hemp rags and other plant threads. Gradually, the need for paper spread across the world, first to Asia and then into Europe where different cultures modified the paper-making process to suit their needs.

The way paper was made changed drastically in the industrial revolution of the 18th century. Paper mill employees, who were previously responsible for various parts of the paper-making process, were replaced by machinery.

Charles Fenerty, from Halifax, began making paper from wood pulp in 1838. While assisting a local paper mill maintain an adequate supply of rags for paper production, Fenerty succeeded in making paper from wood pulp. Unfortunately, he neglected to patent his invention! Corrugated paper, commonly referred to as cardboard, was first made in 1856, by the Englishmen Healey and Allen. In those days, the cardboard was used to line men’s tall hats.

Paper is an integral part of everyday life – even in the digital age. With the advent of the World Wide Web and electronic communications, an estimated 95% of all business information is stored on paper and 500 million newspapers are printed and read around the world every day.

There are various types of paper, board and tissue:

  • Fine paper
  • Office paper
  • Coated paper
  • Uncoated paper
  • Toilet paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Card board paper