Friday, September 27th, 2019

Stone Paper vs. Clairefontaine Paper


First things first, let’s define “paper.” According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, paper is a “thin, flat material made from crushed wood or cloth, used for writing, printing, or drawing on.” Fiber is an integral part of the traditional definition. Stone paper is not paper in the traditional sense, as it is composed of calcium carbonate and polyethylene (HDPE), a plastic.

I am, like many of you, interested in writing instruments, paper, and their effect on the environment. We love all three and stay up-to-date on eco-friendly progress in the industry, which is why for a couple of years now we’ve been reading more and more about stone paper. Companies such as the Stone Paper Company, Taiwan Lung Meng Technology Co., Ltd., KapStone, and Gaiakraft are producing it all over the world. The restaurant industry is particularly keen on stone paper notebooks because they are waterproof and tear- and oil-resistant.

So what are some of the characteristics of stone paper versus Clairefontaine paper (which is made sustainably despite it being “paper” in the traditional sense)? Let’s break them down.

Calcium carbonate rocks (pictured) are pulverized and combined with HDPE to make stone “paper.” Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Stone Paper:

Composition/raw materials

Calcium carbonate (80%): composed of rocks, sand, shells, and minerals

High-density polyethylene, or HDPE (20%): a synthetic plastic used as a binding agent; Type 2 recyclable plastic




Attractive properties

Smooth surface (eggshell feel)




Polarizing properties

If you’re a fountain pen user, it might be hard on your nibs.

Smudging could be an issue with certain pens, especially if you’re left-handed.

Is it recyclable?

HDPE is recyclable, but it’s important that the paper be recycled with Type 2 plastics for this to work.

Is it biodegradable?

No. Stone paper is photodegradable within 18 months of sun exposure, but we don’t know what happens to the plastic after that. And like plastic, stone paper won’t degrade or return to the environment if it’s out of the light.

The Vosges Mountains, where Clairefontaine actively and sustainably develops hectares of fir and spruce trees. Image taken by SPOT satellites. From Wikimedia Commons.

Clairefontaine Paper:

Composition/raw materials

Sustainably sourced wood pulp (waste turned into compost)

Bleach-free (calcium carbonate used instead of bleach)


Water that is then recycled

Attractive properties

Smooth surface

Sturdy, but easy to tear off intentionally


Sustainably sourced

-Polarizing properties

“Traditional” paper

Is it recyclable?

Yes. For more on Clairefontaine’s environmental impact check out this post.

Is it biodegradable?

Yes. It’s made from organic matter and goes back to the earth as such.

Now, I am not claiming to know everything there is to know about environmentally sound papermaking, but maybe this post will shed some light on what’s out there and help you make a decision when you’re shopping for stationery and notebooks. Please feel free to contact us if you have any concerns or additional information.

2 thoughts on “Stone Paper vs. Clairefontaine Paper

  1. And in addition – the stone papers I tried were absolute unusable with a fountain pen or other relatively sharp writing utensil for example a .5mm HB lead in a mechanical pencil. I think the most discerning property of paper is ‘Able to be used with all current writing tools available’.

  2. This is a non-issue for me. Paper is paper and stone (even if you can scribble on it) is still stone. Moses was the only dude who could sell stone tablets and he is long gone.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


A modern notebook since 1934

Buy Rhodia