Yupo® is a type of synthetic paper made from polypropylene by the Yupo company. The paper has distinct advantages and disadvantages when compared with conventional tree-based paper. The company has worked on synthetic paper products since the 1970s. Yupo® can be ordered directly through the company, or from one of a network of distributors. A limited number of art supply stores also carry Yupo®.
According to the Yupo company, the paper is resistant to tears, stains, chemicals, and water. It is also very hard wearing, making it well suited to applications in which a product will see large amounts of potential abuse over its lifetime. The durability of Yupo® is one of the major advantages of the paper, since it wears much better than conventional paper. Yupo® is used to make things like wipeable restaurant menus, waterproof maps, and other hard-wearing printed goods.
Because Yupo® is made from plastic, special inks must be used for printing on it. It is also not safe to use in copiers, faxes, and laser printers, since it is susceptible to heat damage. It can be printed on with a conventional offset press, as long as the press does not generate excessive heat during the printing process. Some artists also use Yupo®, because the paper creates a distinct and sometimes desired look, especially for watercolors.
The paper is designed to be pH neutral, and it has a smooth, glossy finish. Essentially, Yupo® is a paintable sheet of plastic, specially finished with chemicals which will allow it to absorb inks. The printing process can be disrupted by things like oil and dirt, so it is important to keep Yupo® clean before use.
Like many other plastics, Yupo® is potentially recyclable, although not all recycling facilities will handle the product. Check with your local recycling facility before discarding things like Yupo®, as impurities in a batch of recycling can lead the company to throw it out, rather than process it. The paper substitute can also be incinerated in a high temperature and enriched oxygen environment. If burned cleanly, Yupo® does not generate a great deal of pollution.
Many people view Yupo® as an environmentally friendly alternative to paper, since it is not made from trees. The company also tries to manufacture the paper in an environmentally sound way. In addition, Yupo® can be printed on using a waterless process, which reduces pollution and wasted water.