-Brett deLeuze, President, ZD Wines
A question we are often asked is ‘What makes a paper green?’ or ‘What is my greenest paper option?’. In an effort to clarify a fair amount of confusion in the marketplace regarding eco-friendly paper, we have listed below some of the key features of a ‘green paper' and what they mean.
Although we certainly prefer you select En Masse Media as your provider of choice, regardless of your choice this information will help you make an informed decision with your next print project.
Recycled content refers to the portion of materials used in a paper that have been diverted from the solid waste stream. For example, a paper may be described as being 100% recycled with 50% post consumer content. If those materials are diverted during the manufacturing process, they are referred to as pre-consumer recycled content. If they are diverted after consumer use, they are post-consumer.
As a large percentage of the print buying community doesn’t fully understand the different types of recycled content this can make a paper appear ‘greener’ then it really is. Below is an explanation of what is pre and post consumer waste. As you will see, to have the greatest environmental impact, it is important to focus on the post-consumer content of the paper.
Pre-consumer content is material which has been discarded before it was ready for consumer use. This includes trimming, overruns and unused product. Since printers and service providers in the industry get paid for their waste paper it is unlikely that this material would have ever found it’s way to the landfill. Printers waste paper has been recycled for decades.
Post-consumer content is generally viewed as offering a greater benefit to the environment than pre-consumer content. Although pre-consumer waste is much more vast, it rarely finds it’s way into the waste stream. Post-consumer waste is more likely to fill the limited space in municipal landfills and is typically mixed, making recovery more difficult. Approximately 1/3 of the waste we send to the landfill each year is paper. When it comes to choosing a recycled paper for your project it is important to focus on the percentage of post consumer content and not the total recycled content.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products. This offers customers around the world the ability to choose products from socially and environmentally responsible forestry.
FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool for forest conservation. Consumer demand for FSC-certified products encourages more responsible forest management.
Widely recognized as ‘the’ environmentally friendly choice vegetable-based inks offer a sustainable option over petroleum based products. Vegetable-based inks are viewed as better because they are not restricted to one crop. Manufacturers of vegetable based inks "blend" ingredients like linseed (Flax), tung (Chinawood), castor, canola, and safflower to take advantage of the unique characteristics of each oil.
An ink's ingredients are only part of the story. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) refers to organic chemical compounds which have significant vapor pressures and which can affect the environment and human health. During the printing and ink making processes VOC’s are released into the air. The vegetable based inks we use have extremely low to no VOC’s. For more on VOC's check out Wikipedia
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