Paper Buying Guide
Most companies starting on the journey to sustainability look at the paper they use, their carbon footprint and energy use, following by reviewing their travel budget and the vehicles they use. These Guides are designed to make these first steps as easy as possible.
The choice: To take care of business – AND others
Choosing the right paper can reduce your organisation¡'s impact on the environment. It also means that by doing the right thing, you:
- Protect your highly important brand(reputation, image and sales)
- Send a powerful signal to your staff and customers that you are authentic about taking practicable steps to do the right things by them and others
- Improve your chances of winning business in the fast growing sustainable procurement market, and
- Often simplify processes, reduce paper use – and save money!
Compared to other materials, wood and paper based goods produced in a sustainable manner can be a wise choice because they:
- come from a renewable resource – trees
- capture carbon – through photosynethesis and are
Why worry about paper and environmental damage?
- Over 40% of the world's industrial wood harvest is for paper production
- An estimated 8-10% of global wood production is illegally logged
- Paper production is one of the world's largest consumers and polluters of fresh water
- The paper industry is the fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries
- Paper accounts for 7% of landfill waste in New Zealand
- Forests are home to an estimated 800 million people around the world. Paper production continues to come into conflict with indigenous and other communities around the world over land rights, culture,
- human health and livelihoods.
Points to Ponder
- It's important your supplier can demonstrate that your paper is sourced from forests which are sustainably harvested. So you need to know what this actually means.
- To reduce our environmental impact, we must keep as much of the already produced paper fiber in the loop as possible (though we will always need new paper because some is archived, used in books ¡V and the fibres can only be recycled about five times).
- Where was your paper produced?
- How far has it traveled to get to your office?
- How energy efficient was the manufacturing process?
Where the wood for your paper comes from
Most paper today is produced from wood pulp from trees. Different types of paper require different grades of wood pulp.
The properties of wood fibres depend on the species of tree they come from. The paper industry uses mainly spruce, pine and hardwood fibres such as birch and fastgrowing eucalyptus trees as raw material.
Sustainable papers are produced by suppliers who source virgin fibre from sustainably harvested crops and who can provide a certified Chain of Custody system.
Ask to see this "Chain of Custody" which verifies the origin of the wood and traces its progress from forest, to mill, to product.
Seeing the wood from the trees
Cut back: Firstly, consider how to reduce your paper use so that you're only using what's needed. In the office, this means:
- printing on both sides of each page
- reusing all the paper you can
- simply not printing as much (use digital documents where possible).
You should also consider consolidating buying your preferred variety of paper and seek a volume discount from your supplier.
Sustainable papers are produced by suppliers who source virgin fibre from sustainably harvested crops and who can provide a certified Chain of Custody system.
About 10% of the world's productive forest area is certified. The two largest certification organisations are:
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Although the early proponents of forest certification hoped to target tropical deforestation, the temperate and boreal forests of industrialised countries account for 87% percent of all certifications (UNECE/FAO, 2006) and tropical forest certifications in the developing world are continuing to grow.
Third party Certification schemes for legally logged timber from sustainably managed forests include, but are not limited to:
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (www.fsc.org)
- Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) (www.pefc.org)
- American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) (www.treefarmsystem.org)
- Canadian Standards Association (CSA) National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (www.fpac.ca)
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) (www.aboutsfi.org)
- The Australian Forestry Standard (www.forestrystandard.org.au)
There are now papers on the market in New Zealand which are from tree-free sources including agricultural residue, cotton, hemp, flax and kenaf
Ask your stationery retailer to tell you if they have an offer on any of the papers on the matrix.
What is the most ecologically sound, affordable paper to do the job?
What do the Main Paper Suppliers Recommend?
We asked each paper supplier or distributor to tell us which paper they sell most of today and their recommendation on their most sustainable paper.
What to consider when choosing paper
The criteria used in the assessment are:
- Fibre source – tree source and tree-free fibre
- Recycled content
- Bleaching process
- Eco-Labels and Environmental Certification
- Carbon footprint from transportation
- Optical brightness
- Cost – where known
Most commonly purchased
||Sumo Laser, Advance Laser, Royal Offset Hi-Brite
||Sumo Matt & Gloss, Novatech, Silk Lightweight Coated, Samurai
||Reflex range of papers, Australian 80
||9Lives Ambassador, Media
||Southern Star Copier
||Neo Satin & Neo Matt, Offset Pro
||OfficeMax Multi Purpose Plus Copy Paper
||Color Copy, Color Copy Coated
||EXP2000 80gsm A4
Recommended most sustainable
|BJ Ball||No preference||No preference|
|Spicers||No preference||No preference|
|B&F Papers||Southern Star Copier FSC||Cocoon (100% recycled), Neo Satin & Neo Matt (FSC), Offset Pro (FSC)|
|OfficeMax||OfficeMax 100% Recycled copy paper||Color Copy, Color Copy Coated|
|Corporate Express||EXP Green 50% Recycled 80gsm A4|
Some Paper Facts
What's in your recycled paper?
More recycled fibres produced from recovered paper are now being used in papermaking. The choice of good recycled papers available in New Zealand is increasing. In the past "recycled paper" only had to include materials recovered after the initial paper manufacturing process meaning some "recycled papers" may have contained mill scraps only.
Today our expectations are higher and most recycled paper buyers specify post-consumer content to be a minimum 30% with the aim of reaching 100%.
Post-Consumer Material (PCW) is a general term for paper that is recovered before it reaches its end-user. It may include mill scrap from finishing and converting operations at the paper mill but does not include mill broke which is machine trim or undesirable paper that is capable of being reworked within the same process that generated it. Typically the term pre-consumer includes converters, printers and others who are adding value but are not the intended end-user.
Because there are different interpretations about what pre and post consumer means, ask your paper supplier to be clear about what definition they use.
Recovered paper needs to be de-inked before it can be reused. This process needs some chemicals and energy. Every tonne of recycled paper usually leaves about 100-150 kg of residue in the form of de-inking waste, which is most commonly burned for energy production.
Bleaching whitens pulp and eliminates impurities. Pulp is bleached in several consecutive stages. The type and amount of bleaching chemicals depends on how the pulp has been produced and the degree of brightness required. The most common terms are:
Totally chlorine free (TCF)No chlorine or chlorine compounds used to make the paper, which means the paper must come from virgin (new) fiber. TCF pulp accounts for 7% of pulp produced worldwide primarily from Northern and Central Europe.
Elementally chlorine free (ECF)No chlorine gas, but chlorine oxide or other agents containing chlorine are used for bleaching. ECF paper can contain virgin or recycled fibres and accounts for 75% of all chemically produced pulp. ECF produces a higher yield and stronger fibres which enhances its recyclability compared to TCF. Studies find that if produced in modern mills there is no difference between ECF or TCF pulp in terms of their impact on the aquatic environment.
Process chlorine free (PCF)
Recycled paper processed back into paper using no chlorine or chlorine compounds. Because most bleaching is done using chlorine and chlorine compounds recycled paper must be assumed to include scrap paper that was previously chlorine-bleached. Even when a recycling mill uses no chlorine products in its processes, minute traces of chlorine cannot be ruled out in finished paper made from recovered paper.
A slight preference in our assessment has been given to TCF and PCF however we note that the European Commission and the US Environmental Protection Agency have recognized ECF bleaching as Best Available Technology.
Coming soon: Paper from stone wasteA revolutionary paper product manufactured without wood pulp will be launched in New Zealand in early 2010. Produced from ground waste marble and tile off-cuts, Rockstock claims to be the world's most environmentally friendly paper. New Zealand agents Alan Good and Rob Fenwick say it uses little energy to produce; generates no water effluent and is recyclable and biodegradable. It has superior handling qualities to conventional paper, is completely waterproof and is tear resistant. Rockstock is expected to be used extensively in retail carry-bags because of its printing values and by others looking for high sustainability properties. Product claims have been certified by international authorities and with an extraordinarily low emission footprint, it is seeking carboNZero certification.
Other global labels which can be demonstrated to meet similar standards are Environmental Choice (Australia), Nordic Swan, EU Flower or Blue Angel (Europe), EcoMark (Japan).
Environmental Certification / Process efficiencies
There are environmental process management systems which demonstrate that the company is working to reduce the environmental impacts of its operations. These include ISO 14001, EU Ecomanagement & Audit Scheme (EMAS), or EnviroMark. EMAS requires details of performance to be publicised.
We give preference to product related labels but recognize that process related systems are important because they provide practical tools for continuous improvement in environmental performance and energy efficiency.
Carbon Footprint from transportation
We have used a fairly crude assessment of each paper's carbon footprint which is based on the distance traveled to bring the paper to New Zealand. Transport is typically around 20% of total emissions. Hence our assessment clearly does not capture differing efficiencies in processing around the world.
However environmental management systems (as listed above) require continuous improvement to reduce emissions, effluents and wastes with third party verification and provide a good indicator of processing efficiencies.
Optical brightness/opacityBrightness is an aesthetic consideration in paper selection and is therefore subjective. Optical characteristics can be discerned by the human eye and depend on the degree to which the fibres are bleached.
Brightness is the reflection of light from the paper surface which can be measured with different standards. The measurement we have used is the CIE (Commission on Illumination) value. This value can vary considerably between papers. Brightness affects the readability of the paper, so grades with high brightness are mainly used for colour printing. Optical Brighteners, also known as OBA or Fluorescent Brighteners or dyes, are used in paper and paper coatings to make very high bright, blue-white papers.
Some eco-labels restrict use of OBAs because they do not biodegrade easily. Paper can be made sufficiently white by bleaching however whilst some people recommend that if you must specify brightness, a minimum of 84 should satisfy your needs, we have found that companies often prefer a higher level. We have included where optical brighteners have been identified as part of the process.
Increasingly opacity is more important than brightness today because doublesided copies must be legible and the more opaque a paper is, the less show-through there will be. Recycled paper tends to have a higher opacity.
Cost issues are often a major concern to buyers choosing environmental papers however price differentials on recycled papers are reducing and as the market for sustainable papers increases, this will continue. We have given an indication of the feedback we have received on price from a small sample however recommend that you talk directly to your paper supplier to ask for comparative prices.
Big shift in demand
Since first publishing this exclusive guide in mid 2008 and distributing it directly to more than 4000 printers and design houses nationwide, there has been a significant switch to using sustainable papers. One reports sustainable paper inventory rising from 10% to 41%.
More certified paper worldwide
An estimated 10% of forests worldwide are now certified by either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Enforcement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes. Some 224 million hectares of forests are certified by PEFC and about 110 million hectares by the FSC.
There are also more papers on offer in New Zealand at a higher environmental standard. This is due to a number of pressures:
- interest in the rating process;
- paper merchants putting pressure on their own suppliers to comply;
- companies and organizations wanting to use sustainable papers; and
- a paper buyer's guide for government departments initiated by the Environment and Economic
- Development ministries.
Exclusive buyers guide matrix
We're covering more suppliers We now include six suppliers' papers in our comprehensive and exclusive matrix guide to paper choices.
New Zealand paper merchants now offer a wide range of FSC and PEFC chain of custody certified products. We are also starting to see the emergence of papers which are 'available in FSC Mixed sources' but customers need to pay a slight premium or they can buy non labeled FSC product for less.
In recognition of the difficulty in sourcing 100% FSC or PEFC pulp both certification systems also certify Mixed Sources through their labeling systems. Accordingly in our 2010 rating system we have allocated these a 4 rating compared to 5 for 100% chain of custody certified pulp.
We have also given Process Chlorine Free bleaching for recycled fibre equivalence with Total Chlorine Free bleaching for virgin pulp.
We recommend that you source your paper from those listed in this guide .
GREEN PAGES: From waste to print
When we read our daily newspaper, we generally don't think about how the newsprint has been made. In New Zealand Norske Skog produces all our newsprint at its Tasman mill in Kawerau, now operating for more than 50 years. 100% of the fibre used to make our newspapers comes from what was effectively waste from sawn timber production or forest thinnings which are left over on the forest floor. More than 50% of this wood supply is FSC certified and all of it comes from New Zealand's sustainably managed forests, managed to comply with the New Zealand Resource Management Act
"A year ago 10% of our papers were chain of custody certified by FSC or PEFC, now we are carrying 41%. This is a huge achievement given that approximately only 10% of the world's forests are certified."
Andrew Preece, General Manager, Spicers Paper New Zealand
Paper Rating Chart
Exclusive Sustainable Papers
Here is your easy guide to rating the right paper for you and the environment.
It has been developed by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development in collaboration with member companies and the Ministry for the Environment with information supplied by paper merchants BJ Ball, Spicers Paper and B&F Papers and distributors OfficeMax, Corporate Express and Fuji Xerox.
It is a matrix of office and print papers which provides a performance rating against key sustainability criteria.
Papers in the matrix have been assessed using information provided publicly by the paper merchant and/or paper mill. Where papers contain virgin fibre our assessment only includes paper that has been legally and/or sustainably harvested.
Ratings have been given for each criteria on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being the highest environmental performance based on the information as provided. No overall rating has been given. This rating is based on information available at the time of publication and reflects the views of participating organisations.
With more papers available that have Chain of Custody certification from FSC or PEFC, we now list only those papers which meet this standard in its guide.
Matrix Scale Used