Recycled Printing and Paper - The Facts
We promote printing on recycled paper and here are the facts that you need to make an informed choice for your commercial printing or plain paper requirements.
The cost of recycled papers has fallen in recent years due to the increased uptake in use and number of variants now available. The quality is excellent and the production and use of recycled paper is more eco friendly than using virgin paper.
However, if you are looking for a certified eco alternative to recycled, then Forest Stewardship Council approved paper is for you. Please visit our FSC Paper page for details.
A survey conducted by A Local Printer found that almost a third of business owners discount using recycled paper due to outdated reasoning. So, to dispel some "urban myths" please read on!
Defining Recycled Papers
There are varying definitions of genuine recycled paper. General thinking is to encourage the highest post-consumer recycled content whenever possible, providing that 'fitness for purpose' and performance criteria are taken into consideration.
Recycled paper that carries the NAPM Recycled Logo contains a minimum of 50% genuine waste, which is defined as:
1. Converters waste: waste which has left the mill and is generated from a cutting or slitting operation undertaken to meet a commercial order.
2. Printers waste: printed or unprinted - waste collected from a printing operation which may be either 'trimmings' (guillotine waste), 'overs', 'rejects' or any other similar waste received direct from a printer. All of our printers waste is collected twice per week and sent for recycling.
3. Domestic, household or office waste: segregated plain or printed waste collected from any of these places.
Any combination of the three above is considered genuine recovered fibre and counts towards the percentage required for recycled material. Mill broke does not contribute to genuine waste.
The NAPM has been the accredited Trade Association for UK paper and board wholesalers for over 75 years.
Printing on Recycled Paper - FAQ
If you are considering printing on recycled paper here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
What about Quality and Performance?
Improvements in the quality of recycled paper means that the quality and performance is equal to that of virgin paper - particularly if choosing top of the range recycled papers made from 100% de-inked waste, such as the Revive brand we use.
Recycled Paper is More Expensive - Right?
Wrong! Recycled paper has aligned with conventional paper prices in recent years due to increase in demand, refinement of the papermaking process and the significant reduction in energy and water needed to make recycled paper compared to conventional paper.
What is Post-Consumer Waste?
This is paper that has been used by the consumer and returned for recycling, thus keeping it out of a landfill. The more post-consumer waste that is incorporated into recycled material the better!
What is Virgin Fibre?
Virgin fibre is new fibre that has never been used by a manufacturer before to make paper or other products.
What is Pre-Consumer Waste?
Pre-consumer waste is the material that occurs as a by-product to the printing process, such as printers trim, make-ready and overs. We segregate all of our pre-consumer waste and have it collected each week for recycling.
What is Mill Broke and Recovered Fibre?
Mill Broke occurs during the paper making process e.g. trimmings and faulty paper which goes straight back into the pulping process. Since it has never been used in a product, it does not count as recycled fibre but is defined as recovered fibre.
How is Ink removed from Paper for Recycling?
Sometimes the ink is not removed from the paper when it is processed but allowed to disperse into the pulp, discolouring it slightly - which is why some recycled paper can have a greyish tinge.
However, all of the recycled papers we recommend for printing are de-inked and of a conventional whiteness. If the paper is to be de-inked this can be done in one of two ways - by washing or flotation, or a combination of both methods:
1. Washing - As the paper is pulped, soaps are added which separate the ink from the paper and allow it to be washed away in water which is then be cleaned and re-used.
2. Flotation - Air is passed through the pulp producing foam which captures at least half of the ink and can be skimmed off.
Sometimes the pulp is also bleached; hydrogen peroxide is most commonly used as it breaks down into water and oxygen on disposal, although chlorine bleach is sometimes still used.
Although the de-inking process uses water and chemicals, it is still less harmful to the environment than the manufacturing process of making new paper.
What happens to the Ink?
Ink that is removed from recycled pulp can be burned to generate energy to run the paper mill, or sold to make useful materials such as compost or gravel for roads.
What are ECF and TCF Papers?
ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) and TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) papers are made from pulp which has been bleached using hydrogen peroxide instead of harmful chlorine.
Recycled papers are de-inked and if necessary are brightened with hydrogen peroxide or inert, harmless brightening compounds.
At alocalprinter.com we only use TCF and ECF papers.
What is Acid Free Paper?
Acid free paper has had the acid removed from the pulp leaving it with a neutral pH of 7.
Should I choose Recycled Papers?
Choosing to use recycled paper is an ethical issue and down to either personal or company attitudes towards CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility. However, using recycled paper will:-
1. Reduce landfill - using recycled paper diverts waste paper from entering landfills. Landfills are a source of methane emissions, which are a contributor to global warming. What is equally important is that landfills are rapidly becoming full, and fewer new sites are available.
2. Continue the demand for recycled materials - recycling is only viable if end-markets are created for the products made from recovered waste paper.
3. Place less strain on global forest resources - paper recycling optimises the use of a valuable material and reduces the amount of virgin pulp required. Although forests are increasingly managed in a sustainable way there is a need to reduce wastage by using more recycled content.
Some Sobering Thoughts:
1. Nearly 80% of the world's original old growth forests have been logged or severely degraded. 40% of the world's industrial logging goes into making paper and this is expected to reach 50% in the near future.
2. Worldwide, the pulp and paper industry is the 5th largest industrial consumer of energy. Producing recycled paper uses up to 70% less energy than virgin paper*, as well as using far less water. *Source Friends of the Earth
According to the environmental charity Waste Watch, for every tonne (about 2 pallets) of 100% post-consumer recycled paper purchased instead of virgin fibre paper, we save:
1. At least 30,000 litres of water.
2. 3000 - 4000 KWh electricity - enough power for an average 3 bedroom house for one year.
What Recycled Paper is used by A Local Printer?
Using the official definition we use genuine 100% Recycled Paper.
100% Recycled is an uncoated paper - as opposed to gloss or silk materials which are coated papers.
There are no cost effective 100% recycled coated papers on the market at the time of writing. However, the coated gloss and silk papers we use has a recycled paper content of 10% and is a certified FSC Paper.
Forest Stewardship Council - what is FSC Recycled?
The coated papers and 100% recycled paper we use are all FSC Certified and our FSC Chain of Custody Certification means we are authorised to add the worldwide respected FSC logo - known as a claim - to your artwork if required.
Recycled paper is paper that has been verified as being made from 100% post consumer waste. FSC introduced the recycled label as recognition of the value of recycled timber and paper products in relieving the pressure on the world's forests.
Websites for Further Information
For more information please visit our Eco-Websites page detailing respected websites for further information on these issues.