These days, you can find recycled content papers to meet every need, at competitive prices. You can even find premium gloss coated papers with recycled content. There are also non-wood based papers available, such as kenaf and hemp-based papers.
The meaning of “recycled paper content” can vary considerably. Manufacturers have always re-used some factory waste; what we tend to think of as recycled paper has some post-consumer recycled content. That content may vary from 100% post-consumer recycled for basic copy paper to 10% for #1 coated paper. Look for the highest amount available in the category of paper you are purchasing.
Of course, recycled content from waste paper shipped from the U.S. to Asia and then shipped back again as pulp uses too much energy to provide environmental benefit. Since paper packaging gives no information about recycled pulp source, your best guarantee that you aren’t buying “overshipped pulp” is to buy from brands with respected environmental policies.
- For basic office copier and printer paper, use one of the easily available 100% post-consumer recycled papers (carried by both Office Max and Staples, among others).
- Use paper that is bleached without chlorine (Totally Chlorine Free, or TCF).
- Look for a printer who uses soy and vegetable-based inks and ideally, a chemical-free production process (computer-to-plate—no chemicals or film).
- For printing high quality materials, look for paper that is recycled with a high percentage of post-consumer waste, and in which any virgin wood pulp content is from forests certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Among the manufacturers of such papers are Mohawk, Domtar, Neenah and New Leaf.
- Know how to use all functions of your copy machine. Set photocopiers and printers to print on both sides of the paper by default.
- Make computer files, not paper files, when possible. While the paperless office is probably a fantasy, the “less paper” office is not. Computer files can be encrypted, password protected and easily backed up to thumb drives or online, off-site storage for greater security. Fewer paper files mean less floor space is required.
- Reuse envelopes when possible. For mailings where corporate image is not a factor, use labels to cover the old address on used envelopes. You may be able to find labels that include an explanatory note about saving trees.
- Make scratch pads from paper that has only been used on one side.
Provides a guide to selecting papers of all kinds, as well as an exhaustive listing of recycled paper for copiers.
- Rainforest Alliance
Download their SmartGuide to FSC-certified paper and print sources.