6 Tips for Choosing Greener Paper

Jan 20, 2012 1:15 AM  By

In this age of environmental friendliness, here are some paper selection tips to keep in mind:

Source greener paper
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental effects of mass mailings. Merchants wanting to address customer concerns by greening their catalogs and advertising circulars must first green their paper. The paper used in catalogs accounts for more than two-thirds of a catalog’s total environmental impact, according to research from the American Forestry & Paper Association.

Prioritize recycled fiber
In “A Common Vision,” a treatise signed by dozens of groups supporting environmentally sustainable paper, paper buyers should give preference to recycled fiber before sourcing fiber pulped from trees. Catalog paper typically contains less than 10% post-consumer recycled content, so there’s ample room for improvement. And if your paper says “recycled,” consumers immediately understand its “green.”

Maximize recycled content
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and leading environmental groups agree it takes far less energy, water and chemicals to manufacture new paper from old paper than to make it from wood pulp. Simply put, the higher the recycled content, the better for the environment.

Minimize transport
Source paper from a mill near your printer to reduce transportation emissions and fuel costs.

Ensure that wood fibers used in your paper are sustainably sourced
Certifications such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certifications (PEFC) each claim to verify that wood used in paper production came from well-managed forests and not from the clear-cutting of rain forests or old-growth woodlands.

Take advantage of closed-loop recycling
Ask if your paper supplier is willing to take unused catalogs, newsstand returns and printer waste for recycling at its mill. By “closing the loop” directly, merchants ensure their old paper is remade into high-quality publication paper suitable for their future use rather than in lower-grade products such as cardboard boxes.

Steve Silver is president and CEO of FutureMark Paper Co.