Common Myths About Recycled Paper
MYTH: All paper is recycled now,
there’s no need to ask for it.
FACT: Even at the height of its success,
recycled paper only had about 10% of the printing and writing paper
market and even those papers contained mostly virgin materials.
Now distributors, printers and paper mills say that demand is dropping
because buyers believe they no longer have to ask for recycled.
Yet more than 90% of the printing and writing paper made in this
country today is still virgin paper.
MYTH: All paper companies are making
recycled paper, so all paper must be recycled.
FACT: Most paper companies own many
mills. One or two might be making recycled, but the rest are all
making virgin paper. Even many of the recycling mills are making
a lot of virgin paper.
MYTH: Recycled paper jams copiers.
FACT: Today's recycled copier paper
is high quality and technically perfected for use in copiers. If
the paper jams in a copier, it is not because of the recycled content.
It may be that the ream sat opened for a long time and absorbed
moisture. Sometimes people use paper that's not formulated for copiers
and then wonder why it jams. Use paper qualified as "high-speed"
for high speed copiers. The machine may need cleaning or adjusting.
Try another brand of recycled paper, just as you'd try another brand
of virgin paper. See the Listening Study discussion of recycled
content paper in copiers.
MYTH: The little fibers in recycled
paper create too much dust in machines.
FACT: Excessive dust comes not from
recycled fibers but from inadequate production processes or incomplete
vacuuming of cut paper sides. Buy high quality paper to avoid such
MYTH: It is better to focus on tree-free
or chlorine-free papers.
FACT: "Tree-free" is a
fiber source. "Chlorine-free" is a bleaching process.
Recycling is a system necessary for environmental sustainability.
Whether paper is made from trees, crops, agricultural residues,
or other fibers, it needs a system to recycle it after eventual
disposal. The fact that recycled paper today consists almost exclusively
of tree fibers reflects only the current state of our paper supply.
Tree-free and chlorine-free fibers should be combined with recycled
content whenever possible, to develop a strong foundation for more
environmentally sound papers.
MYTH: It is better to burn paper
for energy than to recycle it.
FACT: The fibers in fine paper can
be recycled up to a dozen times before becoming too short for papermaking,
saving resources, water and energy, and reducing pollution each
one of those times. The impact and value of these repeated savings
are much greater than the minimal amount of energy produced when
the paper is burned instead.
MYTH: Making recycled paper is environmentally
FACT: Recycled paper production saves
trees, energy and water, produces less pollution, uses more benign
chemicals, and requires less bleaching than virgin paper production.
It also solves a community disposal problem. The only area in which
recycled paper creates more disposal materials is in the greater
amount of sludge produced than virgin papermaking. But the problem
materials that fall into recycled paper sludge would otherwise have
been scattered throughout landfills or concentrated in incinerator
emissions or ash. Recycling mill sludge becomes an environmentally
preferable way of handling potentially toxic materials such as inks
and additives. The sludge of many recycling mills tests non-toxic.
Sludge that tests hazardous can be disposed of by an environmentally