Recycled paper is the end product of paper recycling. The production of recycled paper has significant environmental advantages over virgin (nonrecycled) paper production, including less impact on forest resources, less air pollution, less water pollution, less water consumption, less energy consumption, and less solid waste. (To compare the environmental impacts of specific types of recycled and virgin papers, use the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator.)
Recycled paper is produced in most varieties that virgin paper is produced, with quality generally equal to virgin paper. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, approximately 76% of paper mills in the United States rely on recovered fiber to make some or all of their products, due in part to recovered paper’s significant cost and energy savings.
“Buy recycled” programs are those that encourage or require consumers to purchase recycled products. In the case of paper, buy recycled programs are essential to increase the economy of scale for recycled paper production so that recycled paper can compete on a “level playing field” with virgin paper.
Buy Recycled Programs: CalRecycle’s buy recycled programs promote the State’s policy to “buy green.” The programs assist procurement officers of the Department of General Services (DGS), all other State agencies, local governments, and private businesses in establishing and maintaining practices for purchasing recycled-content products, with a special emphasis on fine printing and writing papers. One program, that for newsprint, is the State’s only regulatory program affecting the purchase of recycled paper in the private sector.
Recycled-Content Product Manufacturers: The Recycled-Content Product Manufacturers (RCPM) directory showcases innovative recycled-content products made by California manufacturers who use recycled waste as a feedstock. RCPM puts you in touch directly with the manufacturers who make earth-friendly products.
Conservatree: A comprehensive information source that identifies the numerous types and brands of recycled printing and writing papers produced and where you can purchase them in large and small quantities. The site also provides considerable information about the myriad of issues affecting recycled paper.
The centerpiece of the site is the “Conservatree Guide to Environmentally Sound Printing and Writing Papers,” which provides detailed information about each brand of paper listed, including the company that produces it, the overall percentage of recovered fiber, the percentage of postconsumer fiber, brightness, weights and colors available, etc.
Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative: The Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative (RPPC) is a nonprofit program dedicated to natural resource conservation. The goal of the co-op is to increase the use of recycled copy paper on a national basis. The RPPC is accomplishing this goal by providing 30 percent postconsumer recycled paper at prices which meet or beat what many entities pay for non-recycled or “virgin fiber” paper.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline for Paper and Paper Products: This website provides information about recycled paper procurement guidelines for the Federal government. The recycled-content standards in the guidelines are commonly used by private businesses throughout the U.S. Includes the actual recommended recovered fiber/postconsumer fiber content ranges for a wide variety of paper and paper products.
CalRecycle “Buy Recycled” Publications: This page lists CalRecycle’s publications addressing recycled paper (as well as other recycled products).