Your Sustainable Business: Recycled vs. Certified Paper

Making your printing and marketing practices more sustainable or ‘green’ is an easy way for an innerpreneur to make a difference. The facts on the paper industry and its effects on global warming and the environment are horrifying.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the virtues of waterless printing. Today, I am going to speak on the types of sustainable paper stocks and which you should use.

The Different Types of Sustainable Paper Stocks

1. Recycled Paper

What’s it made of?
Recycled paper is composed of ‘some’ quanitity of waste paper — both from paper processing (pre-consumer) and from recycling bins (post-consumer).

2. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Paper

What is it made of?
There are three types of FSC certified paper:

  • FSC Pure – All content in Pure products must come from an FSC certified forest. The paper contains no recycled material or any non-FSC fiber of any kind.
  • FSC Recycled – An FSC Recycled product means that a minimum of 85% of the wood fiber content is from post-consumer sources, with a maximum of 15% coming from post-industrial sources.
  • FSC Mixed – A blend of FSC Pure, Recycled and/or Controlled fiber. Controlled fiber is any wood fiber in an FSC product that isn’t from an FSC forest or recycled.

What You Need to Know About Recycled Paper

  • The amount of actual recycled paper in paper labeled ‘recycled’ can vary widely. Be sure to check how much of the content is actually recycled. Personally, I wouldn’t accept anything less than 50% recycled content but I always strive for 100%.
  • There is no one policing the placement of the recycled symbol on paper. Therefore, it could say it’s recycled and not be. Be sure your printer (or the place you are purchasing the paper from) is trustworthy and reliable. But even then, you can’t be sure.

What You Need to Know About FSC Certified Paper

The Forest Stewardship Council is a respected non-government organization that sets standards and carries out certifications to assure that forests and forest products are managed responsibly. The FSC ensures the sources in their paper aren’t contributing to any of the five most destructive practices in forestry:

  • Illegal logging
  • Natural forest conversion to other land uses
  • The liquidation of high conservation value forests
  • Civil rights violations
  • Genetic modification of forest species

Which Sustainable Paper Type Is Best?

Recycled FSC Certified Paper as it is the best of both worlds. It is guaranteed to be at least 85% recycled materials and the rest coming from certified paper sources.

Of course, using any of the above green paper types is better than regular paper stocks. Be sure to include the FSC or recycled logo on all materials you print. Let your customers know what you believe in.

Where to Find Recycled FSC Certified Paper

Search your country-specific FSC website for merchants and printers. For example,

Or ask your current retailer or printer. Most should have FSC paper available and if they don’t, it is time to switch service providers.

Your Sustainable Business: Recycled vs. Certified Paper

By Tara Joyce Time to Read: 2 min