UPDATE: Congratulations to Notpla – 2022 Winners of The Earthshot Prize

You might think a company founded 160 years ago, and enormously proud of their role in preserving traditional printing techniques, wouldn’t be playing with paper made from weeds.

foiled seaweed paper

Foiled seaweed paper

But you’d be wrong.

The sixth-generation family firm championing the methods used to print the first edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species, is also breaking new ground by printing on a futuristic new stock that is outperforming recycled paper.

In a collaboration with a startup called Notpla, Baddeley Brothers have been printing on paper made from seaweed.

We specialise in traditional printing methods such as die stamping, foiling, letterpress and embossing, and it’s safe to say they’ve had a very close relationship with paper over the past century and a half.

Constant evolution

Notpla are in the advanced experimental stages of producing paper, increasing the amount of seaweed-to-paper and getting better products as each day goes by. Their paper is currently 30% seaweed.

They also produce packaging for a variety of products which also made for the seaweed found in plentiful quantities around coastlines everywhere in the world.

Bees printed on seaweed paper

Bees printed on seaweed paper highlight the medium’s eco-friendliness

Marta Quintata, who is leading the business development of seaweed paper at Notpla said: “We’re on a mission to reduce waste in everyday products and packaging.

“Notpla Paper is also a more sustainable solution than purely recycled paper. Recycled paper demand for replacing plastic has been increasing dramatically, further accelerating in the past two years.

“There is an increasing need for large quantities of virgin paper to go through a long series of chemical procedures to fulfill demand, and this paper can’t be recycled eternally.

“By using just one tonne of seaweed by-product it could save up to four tonnes of trees being felled.”

Notpla visited the print works where there has been a series of trials to see how the materials perform with different packaging and print processes.

Meeting of minds

Charles Pertwee, commercial director at Baddeley Brothers said: “It was a meeting of minds. We’re very excited to be working with Notpla and their seaweed paper.

“We have vast experience of working with different stock and we’re used to working within limitations. This performed remarkably like ordinary paper.

“It has little flecks of dark green which give it a hand-made, tactile feel. And it did give off a nice, sweet marine smell in production!”

Seaweed paper on the press

Seaweed paper on the press

Notpla have placed an order for printed envelopes and other stationery, and Baddeley Brothers are keen to use seaweed paper in some of their client work, not only for environmental reasons but also for the unique texture it adds to the finished project.

“I understand Notpla will develop the stock further to increase the proportion of seaweed in the sheet. The paper industry already has very high sustainable credentials but anything where material is ‘reused’ has got to be positive,” Charles added.