Although we see every day as Earth Day, the annual celebration always inspires great conversation about sustainability and how we can do better as a society. We believe education is the cornerstone of this observance, and though we always hear about important best practices for recycling and minimizing water usage, paper is something we all use every day and an important factor that many people still don’t have right. It’s unrealistic to believe our business world will ever be truly paperless. With that in mind, it’s more productive to focus on how to make more sustainable paper choices — focusing instead on how your paper is made.
It’s clear that companies are changing the way they view paper. In fact, over 100 leading North American companies have now removed or changed inaccurate anti-paper claims in marketing messages as part of an anti-greenwash campaign to recognize the social and environmental benefits of the right printer and paper, as well as the life cycle of sustainable forests and paper products.
There’s a preconceived notion that using paper means cutting down trees — but it’s not. Sustainable paper is a solution, and it starts with education. So, here’s what you need to know when choosing the right recycled paper:
- Pay attention to where the natural resources come from — If sourcing virgin fiber for paper production, look for manufacturers working with suppliers who employ environmentally responsible practices from well-managed forests, which ensures the conservation and protection of natural resources.
- Look into the paper manufacturing process — To truly make sustainable choices, you should choose paper manufactured with the least amount of impact to the environment and its natural resources. Look for paper manufacturing processes that prevent pollution and conserve resources, by de-inking without chlorine and using water as efficiently as possible. For example, Rolland’s de-inking facilities recirculate every drop of water 17 times, and our paper mill recirculates its water more than 30 times.
- Check out official certifications — Certifications tell consumers that the company complies with environmentally friendly international standards and helps them make informed decisions about paper products. For example, look for the FSC®, ECOLOGO and Ancient Forest Friendly™ designations.
- Look for sustainability in the company DNA — Look for companies that have sustainability in their mission and DNA, and that are committed to transparency. At Rolland, we aim to be as sustainable as possible through all of our choices — even those outside of our paper, including how we get our energy. We invested in using biogas from a local landfill site which fulfills 93 percent of our paper mill’s energy needs. Biogas comes from decomposing waste that’s been captured to prevent its release into the air. It is then transported by an eight-mile pipeline to Rolland and used as thermal energy to produce paper, replacing fossil fuels. We also believe that transparency is the currency of sustainability. Look for companies that publish Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results and give full transparency to the methodology used, the tools, and data collection processes to establish the environmental profile of their paper.
With these considerations in mind, you’ll be able to make a decision that’s right for you, with confidence.
After you’ve chosen the right paper, it’s important to arm yourself with data whenever possible. Using an Eco Calculator to help quantify your impact helps you understand how different manufacturing processes compare. Whether it’s to determine the ROI of a purchase decision, meet print policy goals or communicate with shareholders, our Eco Calculator can help quantify the number of trees, gallons of water and other savings gained from using our recycled papers.
As more and more companies are rejecting the idea of “going paperless,” it’s clear that paper is here to stay. Therefore, greater education and awareness about how to choose the right paper is a critical first step toward a more sustainable business world.