Hahnemühle FineArt GmbH celebrated its 425 anniversary this year, making it one of the world's oldest continuously trading paper mill. Throughout its history, Hahnemühle has been uniquely sensitive to environmental issues in an industry that is notorious for its exploitation of the natural world. Today Hahnemühle continues to lead with its sustainable production processes.
"The green rooster, the brother of the Hahnemühle red rooster, was created to show that we care about the environment. Caring means offering environmentally-sound products, use of green power production and the sponsorship of environmental initiatives. In doing so, last year we saved 3000 tons of carbon dioxide, introduced bamboo fiber and sugar cane waste- based papers and donated more than $100,000 to environmental initiatives," said Joerg Adomat, Hahnemühle CEO.
The main resources necessary for the product of paper are water, pulp and a tremendous amount of electrical energy. Hahnemühle has addressed all of these from a product quality and sustainability perspective:
Water: The Hahnemühle paper mill was originally established on the banks of the pure, spring-fed Ilme river near the town of Dassel in the beautiful Solling region of Lower Saxony, Germany. This essential in the manufacture of premium quality fine art paper. Today this region has been designated as a Nature Protection Area by a European Flora Fauna Habitat directive. As a resident of this beautiful area, Hahnemühle has adapted sustainable fresh water and contaminant-free sewage recycling programs that exceed even the most stringent FFH directives. Now, 425 years later, the water of the Ilme is still classified as "drinking quality".
Pulp: The Hahnemühle product portfolio encompasses more than 500 different types of fine art, filter, and technical papers, many of which are used in precision industrial and medical applications that require the highest degree of purity. Since many of these applications rule out the use of recycled paper fibers, the importance of using sustainable forest resources becomes paramount to the company's green initiatives.
The company uses pulp from 20 different deciduous and conifer tree species worldwide and insists that its suppliers be certified for sustainable forestry practices that meet or exceed the equivalent of Forest Stewardship Council directives.
In addition to wood pulp, Hahnemühle also uses six different types of cotton linters and rags made from the super-soft, non-aging fibers of totally renewable cotton plant seed vessels.
In recent years Hahnemühle has developed two new "green" papers that have been added to the Digital FineArt Collection. The first was Bamboo 290gsm made from the fast growing fibers of the bamboo plant. The latest is Sugar Cane 300gsm, 75 percent of which is made from bagasse fibers, a by-product of sugar cane processing that would otherwise be burned. Cotton fibers gleaned from recycling our own paper waste make up the remaining 25 percent.
Electricity: The production of paper is an energy-intensive process; most of which is electrical. In January of 2009, Hahnemühle switched to one of Europe's most eco-friendly electrical energy providers called LichtBlick. The power provided by this company is generated entirely from easily sustainable power sources. No atomic, coal, gas or petroleum fuels are used. This will allow us to eliminate approximately 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, a figure that roughly equals Hahnemühle's total paper production for a year.
Recycling: Whenever possible, Hahnemühle processes its own paper trimming waste and returns it directly into the production cycle. The excess waste trimmings that Hahnemühle cannot use are accumulated and forwarded to other fabricators, effectively eliminating virtually all its mill waste. Finally, all Hahnemühle packaging is made from fully recyclable materials.