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Building On Paper Waste: Newspaper Wood Resets The Paper Lifecycle

This Dutch Student’s Paper Recycling Technique Is Turning Paper Into Logs

The key to a greener future isn’t just finding new and renewable sources of energy and production: we also need to find use for the tons of waste we’ve already generated.

Leaps in technology, and some good old fashioned backyard innovation like Carter Zufelt’s recycled plastic material, are allowing us to utilize our discards to create new products with.

Waste as the building blocks to a greener future.

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To achieve this, we’re going to have to think outside the box about where a product’s life-cycle ends.

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‘Newspaper Wood’ Turns The Paper Lifecycle On Its Head

Paper is mostly seen as a destination for wood, as opposed to a step in a larger process. We’re making paper from wood but, despite the obvious negative effects of cutting down our natural source of oxygen, we’re also left with metric tons of paper waste generated daily. 

In fact, paper accounts for 25% of our landfill waste, and this waste goes completely untapped. But with a little ingenuity, we can turn the traditional production process on its head: a material that goes from wood to paper and from paper right back into wood.

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One Dutch designer uses a technique of compressing and rolling newspapers into fire logs, furniture, fetching home decor items and even jewelry pendants.

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The very first attempt at the technique was simple: hand gluing pieces of paper together one at a time. As time went on the technique became more intricate, resulting in a material that could be sandpapered and even deformed like actual wood.

Cutting off a slice of this Newspaper Wood reveals the hundreds of layers of newspaper waste that went into creating a brand new building material. Much like the growth rings inside natural wood, the layers of the Newspaper Wood give the material a similar aesthetic to real wood.

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Dutch Designer Mieke Meijer’s Paper Waste Recycling Technique
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While the act of recycling old paper into new paper attempts to make a dent in managing our waste generation, the fact is the more ways we can make use of our paper waste, the better.

The key concept behind Dutch designer Mieke Meijer’s Newspaper Wood was the idea of discarding the established life-cycle of paper, and upcycling the waste back into wood.

The idea was born at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2003, as a one-off project by Mieke. For 4 years the technique stayed dormant until a Dutch designlabel, specializing in interior design, took a liking to Meijer’s creations and made it the basis of future product designs.

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Designlabel Vij5 Took Meijer’s Technique And Ran With It

The Dutch designlabel Vij5 has made it their goal to mentor young designers through the process of expanding on their techniques, the production of new products and the marketing of those creations. And just like that, they skyrocketed the idea that would’ve been forgotten, and created a uniquely marketable new material.

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During the Milan Design Weekthe label invited Dutch designers to experiment with the Newspaper Wood material, and the result is some of the most eye-catching and eco-conscious creations available. Guaranteed to impress, and not one of them the same. Newspaper Wood might be even more versatile than even Mieke herself could have imagined.

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Originally published at on April 18, 2016.