Lovely as a TreePosted: May 30, 2011
Recycled paper is more damaging for the environment than non-chlorine bleached fibre from sustainable forests
No. Recycled paper is made from waste paper – that means it spares new trees from being cut down. Also, recycled paper takes less energy to produce – for example, no trees need to be felled and transported to the mill.
But these reasons alone do not make recycled paper less harmful to the environment – whole forests are managed to supply the raw materials for virgin paper. The real issue is over ‘sustainable forests’ – this is a meaningless term. You can only be sure paper is from a sustainably managed source if it is certified by the FSC.
Recycled paper is more expensive than virgin paper
Not necessarily. The first recycled papers were more expensive, but recycled paper is much more widely available now.
Sometimes recycled paper will cost more than virgin paper, sometimes it won’t. But generally speaking, you can expect the price to be lower if buying in bulk.
Recycled papers are usually poor quality
The quality of recycled paper has improved massively in the last 20 years due to advances in papermaking technology, improved sorting and increased recycling rates. It is now often impossible to tell the difference between quality recycled and virgin paper.
De-inking recycled paper is harmful to the environment
The de-inking process uses the detergent, sodium hydroxide – this is a main ingredient in soap and is also used commercially in low doses – for washing fruit and vegetables. In many cases the residual detergent and ink ‘sludge’ is harmless enough to be used as a fertiliser.
Sometimes the ink is diluted, rather than removed, and then spread evenly throughout the sheet of paper – this is known as dispersal. Sometimes the ink is dispersed in such a way as to create a deliberately speckled effect.
One ‘environmentally friendly’ paper is as good as another
A paper’s claim to be ‘environmentally friendly’ is meaningless unless explained and justified. A paper’s environmental impact includes fibre source, energy issues, water, effluents and emissions. Choose 100% recycled or an FSC-certified product.