Focus Press

Digital Printing Services

How a small effort in switching from virgin pulp to 100% recycled paper has a big impact

The Case for Change

Many tonnes of paper are used every day in printing all around the world. This is putting alarming pressure on forests globally. Much of this resting on virgin rainforests which are being lost at the rate of around 160,000km2 per year. That’s the equivalent of a landmass the size of England and Wales. And much of this virgin timber winds up in paper products.

Our philosophy has always been to operate lean and clean, so there was a great opportunity for us to reduce our impact on the environment associated with using virgin paper pulp. The case for using recycled paper was fairly clear.

The Case For 100% Recycled Paper

Paper made from virgin fibre requires more energy and resources than recycled paper. That’s a cold hard fact. Using a reputable calculation from the Environmental Defence Fund we are able to identify the difference in impacts between using virgin and recycled paper.

Comparison: 1 Ton of Virgin Fiber Paper vs 1 Ton of 100% Recycled Paper

Unit of Measure# Resource Used / Waste Created 100% Recycled  Paper Virgin Fiber Savings Using 100% Recycled
Tons Wood 0 3 3
BTU’s* Energy 22,000,000 38,000,000 16,000,000
CO2e lbs Greenhouse Gas 3,582 5,690 2,108
Gallons Wastewater 10,325 19,075 8,750
lbs Solid Waste 1,155 2,278 1,123

# US units used
*BTU: British Thermal Unit – a basic measure of thermal energy, One BTU is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. One Btu is equal to about 1.06 kilojoules.

It’s a pretty compelling case for the use of 100% recycled paper. It is clearly a
more environmentally friendly proposition than specifying paper made from virgin fibre.

It doesn’t stop there. 100% recycled paper has some positive properties which make it possible to use a lighter weight paper when substituting for virgin fibre paper. For example, the bulk and opacity of 130gsm 100% recycled paper is equivalent to 150gsm paper made from virgin fibre.

Here’s an example. A print project requires 1.5 tons of 150gsm paper using virgin pulp. The equivalent project using 100% recycled paper will use only 1.3 tons of paper (substituting 130gsm for 150gsm). From an environmental perspective, using 1.3 tons of recycled paper in place of 1.5 tons of virgin fibre leads to the following resource reductions:

Comparison: 1.5 Tons of Virgin Fiber Paper vs 1.3 Tons of 100% Recycled Paper

Unit of Measure# Resource Used / Waste Created 1.3 Tons 100% Recycled Paper 1.5 Tons Virgin Fiber Paper Savings Using 100% Recycled Paper
Tons Wood 0 5 5
BTU’s* Energy 26,400,000 57,000,000 30,600,000
CO2e lbs Greenhouse Gas 4,298.4 8,535 4,236.6
Gallons Wastewater 12,390 28,612.5 16,222.5
lbs Solid Waste 1,386 3,417 2,031

# US units used
*BTU: British Thermal Unit – a basic measure of thermal energy, One BTU is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. One Btu is equal to about 1.06 kilojoules.

While recycled paper is often more expensive than a virgin fibre, there’s an immediate cost saving of 15% when using recycled paper through weight alone which negates the higher price. Factor in reductions in carbon emissions from transportation, reduced manufacturing waste, water conservation and lower energy costs, and it makes even more environmental sense.

Focus Press has made it policy, backed by our ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, to remain committed to using recycled paper stocks wherever possible.

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