In 2001, Conservatree collaborated with Environmental Defense's Alliance for Environmental Innovation to determine the available capacity in North America for producing deinked pulp suitable for making recycled printing and writing paper. Major paper buyers had expressed concerns that converting their purchases to recycled papers could overwhelm available deinking capacity.
To test whether that was a valid concern, we interviewed the managers at every high grade deinking mill in the U.S. and Canada that made pulp for use in recycled printing and writing papers. This included both stand-alone market deinked pulp mills as well as those integrated with a papermaking facility.
The results clearly showed that, despite recent mill closures, significant industry capacity still existed to support a large increase in the use of recycled content printing and office papers. They also suggested that broad and sustained demand was the best strategy for building long-term market strength and expansion.
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The confidential capacity data obtained in our interviews also allowed us to determine that these high grade deinking mills required 1.4 tons of recovered paper, on average, to produce one ton of deinked pulp - a remarkable fiber efficiency rate of 71%.
(In comparison, wood fiber used to make similar chemical pulp has an efficiency rate of only 23%, requiring more than 4 tons of fresh trees to produce one ton of pulp.)