****Guest post from David Grossman (SVP, Grossman Marketing Group)****
When getting ready to print a piece of marketing collateral, there are many ways in which you can make it more environmentally friendly. None is more important than your paper selection.
There are a number of criteria by which you can evaluate your paper options:
- What percentage of post-consumer recycled content is contained in the paper?
- Is the paper made with 100% certified wind power?
- Is the paper FSC-certified (The FSC logo stands for Forest Stewardship Council, a group that works to ensure that the materials used are sourced responsibly. Each step in the chain (i.e. from forest to printer) must be traceable. The intent of the FSC system is to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples and violence against people and wildlife that often accompanies logging)
- Is the paper process and elemental chlorine free?
While all of these factors combine to determine the eco-friendliness of a paper, the single most important factor is the percentage of post-consumer content. This indicates how much of the paper pulp comes from material that has been used by consumers, then reclaimed and reused, thereby eliminating the need for that portion of the paper to be made from virgin fiber.
Obviously the goal is 100% post-consumer waste (PCW). This means that no trees were used to make this paper. There are varying percentages of PCW contained in readily available commercial printing papers made by the major paper mills. Some of my favorites, which incorporate all of the aforementioned criteria are (in order of preference):
UNCOATED PAPER (all of these papers are 100% PCW):
- This is arguably the most premium of all readily-available eco-friendly papers. The downside is that it is generally the most expensive
- It has gorgeous finish/printability
- Despite being 100% PCW, it is a bright white stock
- Very smooth finish
- Bright white shade
- Excellent Printability
- The one complaint I have heard is the occasional appearance of black specks throughout the sheet. This is a byproduct of the 100% PCW
- It can be slightly less readily available than Astrolite or Options
- Nice finish
- Nice shade of white
- This paper is very affordable and performs admirably for a value sheet of paper
- Less smooth and less bright than the previously mentioned sheets
- Prevalent black specks
- Good for clients who want a paper with a more obvious recycled look/feel
- Contains 30% PCW, which is the highest percentage available in readily-available commercial printing paper
- Beautiful finish
- Excellent printability
- This imported sheet of paper has 50% recycled content with 25% PCW
- It is extremely cost-effective and performs at a level far beyond its price point
- Good finish
- Good printability
For comparison’s sake, a typical sheet of paper contains approximately 10% recycled content, which may or not be PCW. Please note that I didn’t mention any papers made by New Leaf Paper, despite their high degree of PCW. This is due to their unreliable availability, especially on the East Coast.
In this day and age, where environmental awareness has been significantly elevated, it is key to make decisions with sustainability in mind. There is no choice that has more of an environmental impact on your printing than paper selection.