Things to consider before buying recycled paper


Printing on recycled paper has become a big fad in keeping both homes and offices eco-friendly. As a result of this ‘green movement’, recycled paper has become a substantial demand in the print industry. Although printing with previously used paper is most likely your best option, there are still downfalls to this alternative.

Recycled paper allows it’s users to reserve trees, and cut down on pollution in the air caused by manufacturers. However, recycled paper tends to cost more for production, and most likely won’t be the flawless white that you’re used to with virgin paper. In the United States, the pulp and paper industry is the second largest consumer of energy and uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry. Recycled paper also leaves a surprisingly high carbon-footprint, which is caused by the fossil fuels, transport materials, oil, coal, gas and large amounts of water used in the production of recycled paper. These emissions are generally irreversible, even over long terms.

So what should you look for when trying to contribute to a cleaner environment when printing? For starters, let’s talk ink. Vegetable and soy based inks are you’re safest option, as they are more easily removed from paper, which reduces the damage made on paper fibers during recycling and increases the amount of reusable product. In addition, the waste produced by recycling vegetable and soy based inks is not hazardous to the environment and can be treated much more easily in natural ecosystems. Digital printing, which uses 100% nontoxic toner also produces less chemical waste than your standard reprographic or offset printing.

Another point to keep in mind is your bleaching options. Chlorine dioxide is a popular choice for most manufacturers to make paper as white as possible, however there are better options available. When choosing your paper, keep yours eyes open for the acronym TCF. Totally Chlorine-Free (or TCF) paper uses oxygen-based compounds to make your paper as white as naturally possible. Process Chlorine-Free (or PCF) is mostly reserved for recycled content paper, making this also an awesome option if using recycled paper.

There are also many other ways to limit waste on your next printing projects.

Try using:

  • Standard press sheet sizes
  • De-inked paper
  • Acid free paper
  • Uncoated paper
  • A printer that uses a waterless printing system

Using recycled paper is just one of the many ways to lead to a cleaner, healthier environment. Keep your options open when looking at ways that you can make your printing needs eco-friendly. You can drastically reduce the amount of waste produced from your projects by using some of the alternatives listed, making your home or office an environmentally responsible one!