Poop to Paper Process

 

Recovery

Elephant poop fibers are collected from several elephant sanctuaries and parks in northern Thailand and in our local mahout network. Poop fibers from other animals such as cows, horses, Thai buffaloes, donkeys, etc. come to us from many farms, dairies and stables in the region. All of these materials are abundant locally and in many cases our waste disposal is favorable.

 

Cleaning

Cleaning and boiling are important steps in the POOPOOPAPER papermaking process. All non-fiber materials such as pebbles, dirt, mud, leaves, etc. are removed as much as possible at this point, so that only fiber remains. The fibers are then "boiled to a pulp" for four to six hours, which softens the fibers and makes them more pliable, resulting in a porridge similar to oatmeal. The boiling process occurs at 90-100 degrees Celsius to ensure that the protein-based cells of any bacteria are destroyed by extreme heat. Our cleaning and boiling processes do not use any chemicals or other cleaning agents like bleach or chlorine that would be harmful to the environment - only water. Therefore, after cleaning and boiling the fibers, the wastewater can be reused to boil more fibers or used to feed our trees, flowers and gardens adjacent to our production.  


The Mixture 

The next step is to thoroughly mix the poopoo fiber pulps with other seasonal non-wood pulp materials, which allows us to make a stronger, well-glued sheet of paper. These non-woody fibers can include corn stalks, pineapple husks, hay, banana trunks, mulberry bark and others depending on seasonal availability. The mixing process further turns the raw dough into a mixture of a cellulose-filled stew.


Coloring

Once well mixed, coloring can be added to the off-white mixture. Our process uses non-toxic food coloring to achieve dozens of different colors. At this point, the dough is removed from the mixing tank and formed into round balls of similar weight. The water is drained from the mixing tank and can be reused for the next batch or used to water the vegetation.

 

Sift

 Sifting refers to the process of making actual sheets of paper using a sieved frame. This method has not changed significantly since the innovation of paper in China in AD 105. The pasta mixture is poured into a large sink or basin filled with water where a sieve is already submerged. The papermaker catches the flowing pulp fibers with the sieve, then manually distributes the fibers evenly over the entire surface. Once the fibers are evenly distributed and all the small particles are removed by hand, the screen is lifted out of the basin, the water flows through the screen and the screen is placed upright in the sun to dry naturally.

Drying

The sifted screens sit facing the sun for several hours until the pulp has dried. The time may vary depending on weather conditions and the thickness of the sheet being produced. Once dry, the newly formed sheet is then easily removed from the screen. With a supply of freshly made POOPOOPAPER sheets removed from the sieves, the next step in the process is to prepare all of the materials needed to make a POOPOOPAPER product. This usually always involves cutting the paper into all kinds of shapes and sizes, gluing, binding and decorating, and often printing. POOPOOPAPER products are transformed into a wide variety of products: newspapers, notepads, greeting cards, etc. Find out what our artisans are making today on our website and view the different parts and materials used to make a single item.

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