The use or consumption of paper plays a major role in many everyday activities in our lives. From newspapers, coffee filters and transit tickets to paper tissues, photocopying paper and banknotes: 3000 different types of paper and cardboard are used to produce the diverse range of paper products we use. The average person in Germany today uses 250 kilograms of paper per year.

The oft-repeated prediction that paper will soon disappear (for instance, with the rise of the paperless office through the use of computers) has not yet come true. Reading text on printed paper seems to be highly suited to human habits of sensory perception. People even tend to print out web pages and e-mails.

In technical terms, paper is a form of felt made of plant-based cellulose fibres. The fibres cling together through mechanical tangling and chemical bonds (specifically, hydrogen bonds). Paper can have greater tensile strength than conventional structural steel.