When it comes to marketing going digital is the most environmental friendly way, but it’s not always an option and doesn’t always have the same effect. And of course there is also packaging.
So by collecting some information about sustainable & eco-friendly printing I want to give you an overview of how you can reduce your impact on the environment.
So let’s get started with Responsible Paper Sourcing.
There are two types of paper that are classified as environmentally friendly, recycled and eco-friendly paper. What’s the difference?
The raw material for recycled paper can come from two sources:
- Pre-consumer waste: production waste before reaching the consumer, e.g. factory cuts, trimmings and rejected material
- Post-consumer waste (PCW): waste that’s been used by a consumer, disposed of and diverted from landfills
Why is this important?
Because paper labeled “recycled” isn’t necessarily made from the paper scrap you put out for recycling. So when it is made from production waste it means that faulty paper in the mill is put back right through the mill again with the same process as for virgin paper manufacturing, which can be non environmental friendly at all.
So the more post-consumer recycled (PCR) content the better. Products labeled with only „recycled content“ can mean any amount of either pre- or post-consumer waste and virgin fibers. Usually products containing high levels of PCR are labeled as such, so that is something you can keep in mind.
And watch out, often brown kraft paper is mistaken to be recycled, but usually comes from old growth forests.*
This paper is not recycled. However it is made through processes that are environmentally friendly and can be manufactured with either virgin or recycled fibers. Meaning a greener version of traditional paper, with a smaller carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.
Environmentally friendly processes include:
- Sourcing from alternative fibers (e.g. bamboo or hemp)
- No chlorine bleaching (Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) or Totally Chlorine Free (TCF))
- Sourced from ecologically managed plantations (certified by e.g. FSC)
- Minimal emissions and using sustainable energy (Solar, Wind)
There are lots of certifications for recycled and eco-friendly paper, but I only want to list the two most important ones (as far as I understood after my research).
However I found this list where you can look up certificiations from all around the world and for all kinds of categories, so have a look if you are interested in doing a little research yourself.
Forest Stewardship Council supports and controls responsible forest management worldwide. There are three catagories of FSC certifications.
“FSC®-100%“ (usually not for paper or carton), “FSC®-Mix“ or “FSC®-Recycled“.
The FSC®-Mix category is about virgin fiber paper that contains up to 70% of recycled paper, or can contain amounts of “materials from controlled sources“, which don’t have to be FSC certified.
The FSC®-Recycled certification has to contain 100% of recycled paper and also a high amount of post-consumer-waste.
Blue Angel is is a German certification for environmentally friendly products and services, awarded since 1978.
Certified paper consists of 100% recycled paper, is manufactured without pollutive chemicals (PCB and formaldehyde), carcinogenic dyes and coatings and without chloride bleaching. In addition it guarantees economical use of resources and energy consumption and eco-friendly disposal.
To wrap it up,
what are important things to look out on when sourcing your paper?
- PCR – post-consumer recycled
- ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free), better even TCF (Totally Chlorine Free)
- Bamboo, hemp or cotton as alternative fiber source
- FSC & Blue Angel certificates
I hope this makes the decision of which paper to use for your printing material a little bit easier.
If you have anything that you think is important to add send me a message!