Paper – recycled or non-recycled? ♻️

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by Nigel Mackay, Production Director

Pre Covid, it was de rigueur among marketers to insist that all publications were produced on recycled paper.  They felt that this proved to their customers that they were doing the right thing and ticking the environmental ‘green’ box.

It was an over-simplification of the environmental challenge. There was a perception that paper was bad for the environment and, if paper was to be used, then it had to be recycled. 

Following Covid, there was a very limited supply of recycled fibre as there had been fewer magazines and newspapers printed during lockdown. Recycled paper grades were scarce, and the costs increased dramatically. We had always looked at the pros and cons of different paper grades, particularly the carbon footprint of different papers – vitally important from an environmental viewpoint.

We introduced a non-recycled paper from Sweden with a very low carbon footprint. When we compared it with the recycled grade we had been using, we saw that the carbon footprint of the recycled paper was actually eight times higher than the new non-recycled paper (112 vs 896.5 kg CO2/tonne of paper). The reason behind these figures is that in Sweden, energy is generally not produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas, compared to Germany where the recycled paper was produced. Sweden uses renewables in hydro and wind, together with nuclear. 

The client was happy to switch to the non-recycled paper grade as we could explain and justify the decision should any of their customers query it. And the price for the new paper also worked well in the budget.

We should all recycle our used paper, but during the recycling process some wood fibre is lost from the paper, thus weakening it. The paper industry requires some fresh, virgin fibres, from new paper, to maintain the recycling process going forward.

You need to look at the whole picture when choosing the paper grade for your project. We are happy to advise! 

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