Maximising the use of recovered fibre – versus virgin fibre – in appropriate paper grades and under appropriate circumstances can be economically beneficial and specifically reduce environmental impacts. Maximising recycled content for its own sake without regard for product type, mill performance or mill location may produce much more serious – if unintended – negative environmental impacts and no economic rationale.
-Recycled Content and Virgin Fibre: Environmental Economic and Technical Considerations for Magazine Publishers Metafore Inc, June 2009.
The Paper Cycle cannot begin without new fibre from trees. Recycled fibres degrade after several uses and the paper industry needs fresh fibre from responsibly managed forests to keep the renewable cycle going.
In choosing your paper you must considerits full life cycle and not just the fibre source. It’s important to remember that virgin fibre is always required to make recycled paper possible in the first place.
47 percent of new wood fibre input is always needed to keep the global fibre cycle going.
-Hawkins Wright, 2013
Total global fibre consumption is approximately 384 million tonnes, of which virgin fibre is 180 million tonnes.
-Hawkins Wright, 2013
The fact that paper products are recyclableand renewable means that their life cycle can be extended, prolonging this benefit and reducing waste into the bargain.
It is very difficult to directly compare the environmental impact of recycled and virgin fibre paper. Both are important and can have an equally strong environmental argument.
Sustainably managed planted forests are part of the cycle that helps remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This extends from trees to wood and paper products, which continue to store the carbon through their lifetime and help to reduce climate change.
Like so many stories, there are two sides to the story of paper, but the more you know, the better placed you are to make the right decision.
Keeping waste paper in the loop and ensuring fibres remain available for re-manufacture, are key to sustainability.
Specify papers that can be recycled, such as grades made from recycled fibres, or from virgin fibres that originate from certified forests.
Virgin fibre grades are needed to continue the cycle. Recycled fibres degrade after several uses.