I’d love to tell you paper mulch outperforms plastic. I only use paper from newspapers dropped on my driveway and pine bark mulch around here. But in the spring plastic outperforms paper. Otherwise paper can do as well as the plastic.
Four paper mulches—50-lb kraft paper, 50-lb polyethylene-coated kraft paper, 40-lb white butcher paper, and 30-lb waxed paper—were compared with 1-mil black polyethylene mulch in two weeding treatments (bare-ground hand-weeded and bare-ground nonweeded).
In the Fall 2007 experiment, butcher paper and polyethylene-coated kraft paper controlled weeds as well as black plastic mulch. However, in Spring 2008, black plastic mulch provided superior weed control compared with other mulches. Yields among waxed, butcher, and polyethylene-coated kraft papers were similar to black plastic mulch in 2007, though yields in paper mulch plots were significantly less than plastic mulch in Spring 2008. source