Written by: Environmental DefenseThe Task Force specified a five-step process that organizations can take to improve the environment while still finding paper that meets their cost and paper performance needs. The five steps highlighted here are detailed in the full report, which is intended primarily for major paper purchasers, and their suppliers.
1. Know Your Paper Use.
Start by learning what kinds of paper your organization uses. Identify the major uses of paper and how much is used for each. Study how paper is purchased and distributed among various organizational activities. Finally, investigate how the paper is disposed of or recycled.
2. Reduce Paper Use.
Look for ways to eliminate unnecessary uses of paper, perhaps by consolidating forms, or eliminating a layer of packaging. Use less paper to do the same job; for example, print and copy on both sides of a page, or use a lighter weight of paper. Using less paper can save money as well as provide environmental benefits.
3. Buy Post-Consumer Recycled Paper.
Compared to production and disposal of virgin paper, the task force found that recycled paper production and recovery generally result in much less air and water pollution, less solid waste, and lower consumption of energy and forest resources. Ask for paper with post-consumer recycled content (paper that has been used by consumers and recycled). Collect and recycle your organization's paper and encourage others to do the same.
4. Support Good Forestry Practices.
No matter how successful you are at recycling and buying recycled paper, much of the paper you buy will likely still contain virgin fiber. As the report explains, the forest impacts of producing that fiber can be reduced. When buying paper containing virgin fiber, look for paper supplied by companies that use environmentally sensitive forest management practices to produce virgin fiber.
5. Help Reduce Consumption and Pollution in Manufacturing
Transforming fiber--whether virgin or recovered --into paper products requires large amounts of fresh water, chemicals, and energy, and produces air and water pollution and solid wastes. There are ways to reduce this consumption and pollution, the report explains. Look for opportunities to buy paper made using pulp and paper manufacturing technologies and practices that minimize impacts on the environment.
The Paper Task Force has also identified ways to integrate these environmental factors into paper purchasing decisions on an equal basis with traditional criteria such as cost, availability, and performance. This approach ensures that the right environmental choice also makes good business sense.
Many of the task force's recommendations can cut costs and offer longer-term strategic advantages for purchasers. If adopted broadly, these steps can positively reshape the overall economics of paper production and use and ultimately change the way paper is used in America.
Copies of the full 250-page Paper Task Force report are available for $25 from EDF Publications, care of the Washington office. A 16-page Project Synopsis, included in the report, is also available separately for $5. Internet users may download either publication from the EDF World Wide Web site at www.edf.org
EPA Nationwide Recycling Hotline: 1-800-CLEANUP
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