Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Canadian Artist Makes a Market for Waste Bags

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Canadian Artist Makes a Market for Waste Bags

Article excerpt

Making designer bags from waste paper that can't be recycled: It's an environmentally pleasing idea.

The person who thought of it is Mary Anne Runnalls, a Toronto artist. The successful business she started last summer, Relative Productions, uses paper discarded from billboards.

"This paper is full of ink and can't be recycled," Ms. Runnalls says. "The billboard companies don't know what to do with this. We actually get it for nothing."

Most of the paper she and her two-person staff use is from one company, Mediacom, a firm that specializes in billboard advertising. It has a large printing plant just outside Toronto.

"It's a win-win situation for us," says Yvonne McKinnon of Mediacom. "We're glad to find a use for this paper. It's test paper, and we would just have to shred it and cart it away."

The billboard paper is thick, so it can be sewn together. "The water resistant treatment, gives the paper strength," Runnalls adds.

The paper can be squashed and folded into different designs: A long thin bag can be an umbrella stand; a larger bag can be used as a decorative trash can. …

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