Recycled Paper and Printing - The Facts
All of the products available on our website come with the option to print on 100% recycled paper – a keystone of our environmental principles.
Whilst we have total faith in using recycled papers on a commercial basis, here are the key facts to allow you to make an informed choice for your own retail or commercial printing requirements.
Defining Recycled Papers
The range of recycled papers available has increased over the years due to the uptake in use and the increased extent of commercial recycling. The numbers of variants now available deliver excellent quality, with the added advantage that the production and use of this paper is more eco-friendly than virgin paper.
There are varying definitions that encompass paper that has been identified as recycled. General thinking is to encourage the highest post-consumer recycled content whenever possible, providing that the material remains 'fit for purpose' and performance criteria are taken into consideration.
Whilst the National Association of Paper Merchants was wound down in 2013 their criteria for categorising and certifying paper recycling is still valid today.
Recycled paper that carries the NAPM Recycled Logo must contain a minimum of 75% genuine waste, which is defined as:
- Converters waste: waste which has left the mill and is generated from a cutting or slitting operation undertaken to meet a commercial order.
- Printers waste: printed or unprinted - waste collected from a printing operation which may be either 'trimmings' (guillotine waste), 'overs', 'rejects' or any other similar waste received direct from a printer. All of our printers waste is collected twice per week and sent for recycling.
- Post Consumer Waste: domestic, household or office waste: segregated plain or printed waste collected from any of these places
Any combination of the three above is considered genuine recovered fibre and counts towards the percentage required for recycled material.
Printing on Recycled Paper - What you need to know
If you are unsure about using recycled paper or board for your printing we hope these pointers will allay your concerns:-
Quality and Performance
Improvements in the production of recycled paper means that its quality and performance is equal to that of virgin paper. This is particularly so if choosing top of the range recycled papers made from 100% de-inked waste, such as the 100% recycled materials we use.
But it is More Expensive - Right?
Wrong! Recycled paper has aligned with conventional paper prices in recent years due to increase in demand, refinement of the papermaking process and the significant reduction in energy and water needed to make recycled paper compared to conventional paper.
What is Post-Consumer Waste?
This is paper that has been used by the consumer and returned for recycling, thus keeping it out of a landfill. The more post-consumer waste that is incorporated into recycled material the better!
What is Virgin Fibre?
Virgin fibre is new fibre that has never been used by a manufacturer before to make paper or other products.
What is Pre-Consumer Waste?
Pre-consumer waste is the material that occurs as a by-product to the printing process, such as printers trim, make-ready and overs. We segregate all of our pre-consumer waste and have it collected each week for recycling. This is then turned in to recycled paper and the cycle begins again.
What is Mill Broke and Recovered Fibre?
Mill Broke occurs during the paper making process e.g. trimmings and faulty paper which goes straight back into the pulping process. Since it has never been used in a product, it does not count as recycled fibre but is defined as recovered fibre.
How is Ink removed from Paper for Recycling?
Sometimes the ink is not fully removed from the paper when it is processed but allowed to disperse into the pulp, discolouring it slightly - which is why some recycled paper may have a greyish tinge or speckled effect.
However, all of the recycled papers we recommend for printing are de-inked and of a conventional whiteness. If the paper is de-inked this can be done in one of two ways - by washing or flotation, or a combination of both methods:
- Washing: As the paper is pulped, soaps are added which separate the ink from the paper and allow it to be washed away in water which is then be cleaned and re-used.
- Flotation: Air is passed through the pulp producing foam which captures at least half of the ink and can be skimmed off.
Sometimes the pulp is also bleached; hydrogen peroxide is most commonly used as it breaks down into water and oxygen on disposal. Although the de-inking process uses water and chemicals, it is still less harmful to the environment than the manufacturing process of making new paper.
What happens to the Ink?
Ink that is removed from recycled pulp can be burned to generate energy to run the paper mill, or sold to make useful materials such as compost or gravel for roads.
Why should I choose Recycled Materials?
Choosing to use recycled paper is an ethical issue and down to either personal or company attitudes towards CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility. However, using recycled paper will:
- Reduce landfill: using recycled paper diverts waste paper from entering landfills. Landfills are a source of methane emissions, which are a contributor to global warming. What is equally important is that landfills are rapidly becoming full, and fewer new sites are available.
- Continue the demand for recycled materials: recycling is only viable if end-markets are created for the products made from recovered waste paper.
- Place less strain on global forest resources: paper recycling optimises the use of a valuable material and reduces the amount of virgin pulp required. Although forests are increasingly managed in a sustainable way there is a need to reduce wastage by using more recycled content.
Take Away Positive Thoughts
There has been a decline in global deforestation, thanks partly to the increased use of recycled materials and the purchasing of paper products that are certified as coming from responsibly managed forests.
Recycling one tonne of paper can save 3000 - 4000 KWh electricity, enough to power a home for nine months. Save 30,000 litres of water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one metric tonne of carbon equivalent (CO2e).
What Recycled Boards and Paper is used by A Local Printer?
Using the official definition we use genuine 100% Recycled Paper.
100% Recycled is an uncoated paper - as opposed to gloss or silk materials which are coated papers. The coated papers and 100% recycled board and paper we use are all sourced from responsibly managed forests.
Recycled material is paper that has been verified as being made from 100% post consumer waste. The recycled label acts as recognition of the value of recycled timber and paper products in relieving the pressure on the world's forests.
We have created our own logos which you can use on any of your products to demonstrate the eco credentials of the papers you are using.