Sourcing recycled paper is crucial for homes and businesses as paper waste continues to increase across industries
Around 422 million metric tons of paper were consumed globally in 2018; the world’s paper consumption is roughly equal to that produced annually.
The energy needed to cut and process trees into paper releases CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to the buildup of greenhouse gasses, contributing to climate change.
An alternative to paper exists, and its carbon footprint is much smaller than that of traditional paper. Here is how you can choose sustainably sourced recycled paper.
Is It Better To Buy Recycled Paper?
Traditional paper is made from wood pulp which comes from freshly cut trees. Recycled paper is made from post-consumer waste rather than wood pulp. However, the recycled and virgin paper both go through chemical baths to eliminate ink and fibres.
Paper products, from packaging to notebooks, can be recycled into this type of paper. It’s easy to see how widespread recycling of paper products could help to reduce deforestation by creating more recycled paper that doesn’t require fresh trees.
It only makes sense to recycle paper and use recycled paper where possible. It’s also good to buy paper made in your country so that you can limit the environmental impact on resources used. Continue to recycle papers properly or find alternative uses for scrap paper.
Understanding The Definitions For Recycled Paper Products
When you search for recycled paper products, you’ll come across many terms. Here are some of the most common ones and what they mean:
Previously consumed material as a product, such as newspaper or a cardboard box.
Also known as PCS (post-consumer waste), it is material generated by manufacturing, including leftover paper from books or packaging.
Processed Chlorine Free / Unbleached
This means the paper was not bleached or chlorine to turn white (which comes with environmental issues). In this case, the paper you purchase has not been processed with either chemical.
Some companies may use a mix of post and pre-consumer paper. The amount should be noted as a percentage of the package. Watch out for paper that says recyclable, as it does not mean the paper contained recycled contents.
Recycled Paper Certifications
You’ll also want to evaluate the certifications for forest management. The top two certifications you’ll want to look for are:
- FSC (Forest Stewardship Council): SAC is the only forestry certification accepted by environmental groups. They have ten principles that guide healthy forest management, including protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and workers. You’ll also notice they have three labels that define 100%, Mixed or Recycled paper materials.
- SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative): An internal program part of the American Forest and Paper Association, certifying their own industry’s products.
Even though the recycled paper does have a smaller impact on the environment, always remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. Look for ways to improve your recycling habits and use digital documents when possible. Be critical and search for certifications before you buy.