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WHAT IS RECYCLED PAPER?

The terminology of the recycled paper field has changed a lot in the past few years. Most people I ask to define recycled paper do not have a clue, and it is now crucial that the terminology be taught so that we can make the appropriate choices when trying to help our environment.

Recycled Paper: Is paper that has a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste in the new made sheets. There is no mention of pre-consumer waste.

Post-Consumer Waste Paper: Post-Consumer Waste is paper that was printed on, went to the ultimate consumer, and was used by the ultimate consumer. It is printed waste paper.

Pre-Consumer Waste: Pre-Consumer Waste is paper that wasn't printed on, and never went to the ultimate consumer. Usually, this waste is white trims from sheeting the master rolls. It never came near our overcrowded landfills or incinerator plants.

100% Recycled Paper: This term is badly misused. Recycled paper is only post-consumer waste paper. Thus, the mills that state 100% Recycled/50% Post-Consumer or 100% Recycled/30% Post-Consumer are making the 100% Recycled seem like the top number. However, in the cases above, the paper should be listed as 50% post-consumer or 30% post-consumer, period. The other 50% or 70% is Pre-Consumer Waste and does not count in evaluating the environmental worth of the environmental grades. Only if the paper is 100% Post-consumer does the 100% Recycled have any major implications.

Chlorine Free Paper: This is another misused term. There is Elementally Chlorine Free Paper and Processed Chlorine Free Paper and Totally Chlorine Free Paper. They all sound good, but only the last two are Chlorine Free Papers. To be Chlorine Free, the bleaching is either Oxygen or Hydrogen Peroxide, which makes the papers either PCF (Processed Chlorine Free) or TCF (Totally Chlorine Free). Processed Chlorine Free is the term used to bleach previously recycled paper and TCF is the term to use when bleaching new wood pulp. However, in either case, there is no chlorine used. In ECF (Elementally Chlorine Free) paper, the bleach is Chlorine Dioxide. That is chlorine and it will create Dioxins and it can cause cancer and pollute our water and fish, wildlife and humans.

Thus, a term that sounds good, Elementally Chlorine Free is very misleading and does cause good intentioned people to buy this paper thinking it is chlorine free. Worse, are the paper vendors that make you think that a 100% Recycled/30% Post-Consumer grade is terrific. Wrong!!!

In this case, we are misleading people that the paper is 100% recycled. It is really only 30% post-consumer recycled. I promote 60% PCW papers and 100% PCW papers.

Secondly, the paper is ECF or elementally chlorine free. Until someone proves otherwise, there is not one 30% Post-consumer Waste paper made that does not use ECF pulp. Usually, you need a minimum of 50% PCW to even begin to think the bleaching is chlorine free.

The next problem is there are mills that claim they use Oxygen or Hydrogen Peroxide (PCF) bleaching, but don't have one credible third party certification to that fact. We saw Fraser Paper claim PCF and was later found to be ECF and we have three mills that claim PCF and have not really been checked out. Why should we say trust them?? We have other mills that weren't correct. What if one of those mills sold over a billion pounds of paper and was later found to be ECF. I would be extremely upset.

How about claims on the printing that brag about chlorine free ,and the paper mills and paper companies selling the paper refuse to even say where the paper came from and by whose standards do they use to say the paper is chlorine free?

I am appalled that those misleading claims can steer away business from the mills like Rolland Paper that paid dearly for the third party certification. Is that fair?

I guess we come full cycle. You need to know the terms and be able to make the correct choices to preserve our endangered environment.

We should drop the Pre-Consumer number and we should demand third party certification. The people that do the certifying have impeccable credentials and have won numerous awards in the paper making segment and speak all over the world about this very subject.

I hear non believers say the certification costs too much money, but if a mill can sell a billion pounds of paper of potentially the wrong paper, shame on all of us.

It's time to applaud the Chlorine Free Products Association, like The United Nations did when they requested that all bidders on their Chlorine Free bids be third party certified by The Chlorine Free Products Association. They eliminated the TRUST ME attitude and replaced it with facts. We should all do that.

Written by: Greg Barber Company


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