PICKING PAPER STOCKS WITH THE ENVIRONMENT IN MIND
Are the many acronyms and logos that go with paper stocks these days causing your head to spin? Us too!
Like everyone these days, you want to do the right thing for the environment and choose a stock that is going to be the least detrimental to our world. Do you go with recycled? FSC? EMAS? FDA? ECF? Or ISO14001? What does it all mean? So let’s try and simplify it a bit.
Recycled paper is manufactured with recovered fibre. Recycled fibres have been extracted from existing paper products, to be used in the manufacture of further paper products. Recycled paper can be 100% recycled or mixed with virgin fibre to improve consistency. Fibres can normally be recycled 5-6 times before they breakdown. In Australia, recycled papers should contain a minimum of 20-30% post consumer waste.
Post Consumer Waste (PCW)
PCW fibre is made from reprocessing or de-inking paper that has been used by a consumer. It is considered the most environmentally efficient as the fibre has completed a useful life before re-entering the cycle.
Pre Consumer Waste
Waste that has left the mill but has not reached the end user, typically trimmings and rejected materials from printers, envelope converters, etc. Pre consumer waste has often not been printed on and requires less de-inking.
FSC – Forest Stewardship Council
A World Wildlife Fund supported, international, non-profit organisation. FSC works to promote responsible forestry, conserve biological diversity and protect old growth forests. There are currently some 93 million hectares of the world’s forests certified as FSC.FSC also includes a ‘Chain of Custody’ system that tracks paper from forest all the way to finished material. The ‘Chain of Custody’ requirement is what makes FSC particularly effective as you are able to trace your product back to the plantation and sometimes the immediate area in the plantation where the trees came from. It is crucially important if you are using the FSC logo that the ‘Chain of Custody’ has been carried all the way through the process from the forest, to the mill, the distributors, and the printers. The biggest misconception with FSC is that the printers don’t need the certification. This is not true – every business which directly handles the paper requires an FSC Certification for the final product to be able to wear the FSC logo.
There are 3 types of FSC labeling:
- FSC 100%
- FSC Mixed Source – For products grouped from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre.
- FSC Recycled – Supporting responsible use of forest resources.
PEFC – Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
PEFC is a non-profit making, non-governmental organisation. It provides a framework for auditing forestry operations and promoting sustainable forest management by actively reducing the effects on the environment. It is the largest certification scheme, covering 205 million hectares of the world’s forest areas. It involves PEFC Chain Of Custody certificate holders (there are 3000 worldwide). Companies may hold both PEFC and FSC.
There are a number of options available on the Australian market. The alternative fibres include: cotton, bagasse, bamboo seaweed and hemp. The visual characteristics and print performance of these stocks are often indistinguishable from tradition wood based products.
ISO 14001 EMS
For a paper mill to have achieved the ISO 14001 tick of approval it must have established performance objectives and environmental management systems to prevent pollution, ensure compliance with regulations and achieve continual improvement. It specifies requirements for establishing an environmental policy, determining environmental aspects and impacts of products/activities/services. It can apply to any organisation producing any product or service anywhere in the world.
EMAS – European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme
A similar scheme to ISO 14001. EMAS is a voluntary environmental management system that is based in Europe and is developed around EU regulations. The scheme requires transparent public reporting, monitoring, auditing and employee involvement in its implementation. EMAS is designed to deliver continual improvements in a company’s environmental performance.
ECF – Elemental Chlorine Free
ECF indicates a paper that is made without the use of elemental chlorine. ECF pulp is produced with chlorine compounds, a bleaching alternative that serves to reduce harmful by-products.
PCF – Process Chlorine Free
Paper that contains post consumer recycled fibre that was processed without the use of any additional chlorine or chlorine compounds.
TCF – Totally Chlorine Free
No chlorine gases are used in the bleaching process. TCF cannot apply to recycled papers, because the source fibre cannot be determined.
So you see most paper in Australia will have a level of ‘green’. The choice you make for paper will on some level be the right one for the environment.