Sources of fibre for tree-free paper include:
- agricultural residues (i.e. sugarcane bagasse, husks and straw)
- fibre crops and wild plants, such as bamboo, kenaf, hemp, jute, and flax
- textiles and cordage wastes
Non-fibre sources include:
United States annual pulp paper goods comsumption exceeds 110,000,000 tons per year, consuming 1 billion trees annually, an area of approximately 12,400 square miles; US demand for paper is increasing notwithstanding the advent of the "digital age".
Paper manufacturing is highly competitive, with historically tight margins and small operating profits. As a result, the raw materials used to make paper have to be very cost effective using cheap scalable renewable resouces coupled with relatively inexpensive ways to deliver large quantities to market. Until recently,[when?] commercial tree farming, has been shaped to account for the these tight operating margins and supply cost limitations. Virtually all paper, however, requires massive cutting, replanting and re-cutting of wide swaths of forest. These limitations have made wood pulped farm grown supply stock the paper industry's overwhelming scalable raw material of choice.
The paper industry's answer to "tree free" paper has been focused on "recycled waste paper" as a tree free alternative even though the vast majority of "recycled waste paper" originally started its life cycle from tree grown pulp.
Fiber dense agricultural residues, have been known as a pulp substitute for years. Commercial low cost production technology coupled with limited resource abundancy plus low cost transportion to commercial business markets had created a barrier, virtually relegating true "tree free" paper from developing into anything more than small niche markets with even smaller niche market players. Furthermore, grasses and annual plants often have high silica contents. Silica is problematic as it consumes pulping chemicals and produces fly ash when burned.
However, in early 2013, it appears that at least one or more corporations have overcome these barriers. These several entities have apparently developed the residue rich resource allocations, scalable low cost high quality manufacturing technology coupled with reasonably cheap transportation to produce "Xerox" identical, high quality true tree free paper on a price competitive basis with all recycled paper in the US markets. A proprietary formulation of sugar cane waste bagasse and bamboo residue appears to be the materials of choice.
By January 2013, at least one of the "big 3" U.S. office supply chains[who?] had satisfied itself that each of the commercial quality, quantity and competitive pricing barriers has been overcome sufficiently to begin offering, on a consistant basis, true "tree free" commercial copy paper at competitive or better pricing to all recycled paper.
See also 
- "Treefree 101". Retrieved 2008-10-15.