Eco-friendly products are in high demand, so getting products made from recycled paper is a great choice for your business. The benefits of recycled paper are not difficult to understand and it’s a great way to show customers you care.
However, recycling paper is a difficult and complicated by many factors, and it’s not as simple as simply believing that an older sheet of paper will yield better quality than a newer one. Changes in the industry and processes involved in recycling have made the process more complex. Recycling paper is a great way to reduce waste but there’s no denying that virgin paper will always be an important part of the industry.
A lot more businesses these days are searching for ethical paper sources, so it’s even more important to understand the facts of different kinds of sources available. It’s also important to realize that ethical paper can come from new and used sources too.
The Forest Stewardship Council was established in 1994. Since then they have been working to improve the paper industry through setting standards for it’s manufacturing chain, meaning that they offer certification for each stage.
It’s not as simple as planting trees every time you cut one down in order to gain FSC certification. There are ten standards that need to be met and they go way beyond the basics
1: Compliance with laws and FSC Principles
2: Tenure and use rights and responsibilities
3: Indigenous peoples’ rights
4: Community relations and worker’s rights
5: Benefits from the forest
6: Environmental impact
7: Management plan
8: Monitoring and assessment
9: Maintenance of high conservation value forests
Following these principles means that you must consider the impact of deforestation on wildlife, preserve natural forests and think about how forest management affects the environment.
The environment is also affected by the irreparable damage that corporations and society in general do to the Earth. The result of this often includes land being flooded and, more often than we think, low-lying areas and areas downstream from where logging takes place tend to be impacted. This is often overlooked when common environmental concerns like the ozone layer and global change come up, The FSC requires companies to be considerate of the local people who live around their plantations, providing jobs and respecting their land ownership where it asks.
By using paper stocks with certifications like FSC, you are supporting environmentally sustainable plantations and also developing ethical practices in these locations.
However, virgin paper is rarely made from 100% new wood chips. Because the fibres in recycled paper have already been broken down once, it is more efficient to use a small quantity of recycled pulp in the initial stages of production. So, most new paper products are made from recycled paper. The type of reused paper is often the leftover scraps of the papermaking process. Material is being collected from the mill and sent back to be processed, creating more of a pre-consumer product.
If there were a paper specification that detailed its recycled content, it would be made up of materials originating from post-consumer waste. This is the most important ingredient in making your product more sustainable. This is very good news for the environment! In the UK, 81% of paper produced is recycled which helps protect both our atmosphere and valuable resources. Products that are not recyclable due to their uses, for example wax coated paper or books, should be placed in the “other recycling” bin.
Recycled paper is not all the same. It comes in a variety of content ratings and these are usually regulated by the type of recycled material that went into making it. The most common fractionated strength for certified recycled paper is 50% to 80%. This is usually because many forms of certified recycled material need long fibres to give them strength, but this can affect how. As a result of the fibres in paper getting shorter and shorter after each recycling, paper can only be recycled 7 times before it can no longer be used
New technology and improvements to the process result in recycled paper being as good as virgin stock. You can also use it in most printing situations so there’s no need to worry.
Printing paper with postconsumer waste content is 10% more expensive than virgin stocks. Papers with 50-80% postconsumer waste content are 25% more expensive than virgin stocks. Prices are dropping for recycled paper, even though production is increasing. However, it’s worth remembering that recycling has a limit number of ‘cycles.’ While you’ll never be able to avoid using virgin fibres, recycled supplies allow for the use of short fibres and are good for the environment too.
If you’re looking for an ethical paper source we offer both FSC and recycled stocks. You can mix and match paper sources according to your business needs, such as if you need a more ethical paper source for your most important documents mailed out to customers.
Recycling paper waste is important for the environment and it’s your legal responsibility too. This year, from January onwards, households & businesses must recycle their waste paper from other waste.