Chlorine Free Paper Issues



LISTENING STUDY: Many users experienced no problems running recycled paper in their office equipment, although in some cases they had experienced problems in the past.

"No problems experienced in past 5 years." - Bruce Lawrence, Bank of America

"Yes, it performs competitively in office machines." - (public agency #9)

"We use recycled paper where I work and I haven't heard of any problems associated with it." - (public agency #6)

"The County has been using recycled paper for over 15 years. To the best of my knowledge, we have had no problems with the use of recycled paper in any of our machines." - John Reindl, Recycling Manager, Dane County, Wisconsin

"Our office switched to the Badger Envirographic 100% postconsumer paper last year. Our facilities people performed several tests on the paper (in high speed copiers, regular copiers and printers, etc) and found no problems and we haven't had any problems using it." - Mike Giuranna, federal government employee

"[Our state] offers Envirographic 100 on our state term contract and we are having good results. In blind tests this product actually performed better in copiers and printers than [a competitive 30% postconsumer copier paper]. Now we just need to get people to buy it!" - (public agency #13)

"Various agencies in Charleston are using the Envirographics 100 paper with great results. It performs well in all types of equipment, and we even use it a second time, so to speak (when a page has been printed on one side, we re-insert the paper and use the blank or second side as well). I have researched various papers using the following criteria:
1. highest post consumer content
2. no chlorine/chlorine derivative
3. no old growth timber content
4. mill in substantial environmental compliance
5. performs in equipment
6. cost per ream is competitive
The Envirographics 100 product met all criteria." - Marcella Guerriero, The Lowcountry Environmental Education Program (LEEP), Charleston, SC

"In 1999, our office investigated several printer/copier papers for both recycled content and process chlorine discharge. The goal of our study was to select a new paper for use in our own offices (more than 2,000 people). The initial investigation led us to Rolland's New Life DP100. We tested 20 reams by running the paper through 20 of the office's printers, copiers, and fax machines (large and small, old and new). The paper worked beautifully with only 1 jam reported - not necessarily caused by the paper. Our organization's offices then used this paper exclusively without problems." - (public agency #15)

"In Minnesota, purchasing recycled paper is a priority. The state's Central Stores has sold recycled copy paper for years. Their experience with new recycled copy papers has been excellent. Recycled papers are virtually indistinguishable from their non-recycled counterparts, with similar performance, color and cost.
      The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) maintains a list of qualified high-speed recycled copy papers that met stringent specifications. Those specifications include a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled fiber, being free of lint and fuzz, and having not more than one paper-caused jam per 5,000 continuous copies.
      Great White paper has performed well in Minnesota. It has been the main recycled copy paper for the state for the last few years.
      Envirographic 100 (Badger Paper) is a new product at Central Stores. Last summer, several Minnesota agencies tested the paper and found that it performed well in all kinds of office equipment, including high-speed and desktop copy machines, laser printers and fax machines." - Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance webpage,

"In the early 1980s, recycled papers were still in the development phase, and some state agencies in Minnesota had some trouble using the paper in their machines. Common complaints included excess amounts of paper dust (linting) and more frequent paper jams. As a result, some agencies stopped buying recycled paper.
      As recycled papers have improved, many offices are giving recycled-content papers another try. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) is one such example. Mn/DOT had changed over to recycled paper in their laser printers and low-speed copiers, but chose to use non-recycled (virgin) paper in high-speed copiers like their Xerox DocuTech. In the summer of 1999, Mn/DOT re-examined this practice. They tested Union Camp's [now International Paper] Great White recycled copy paper in their high-volume machinery. A single machine was monitored over a 10-week period; nearly 120 cartons of recycled paper were run through the machine. Kay Tkachuck, Reprographics Unit Supervisor, says, 'The copier using recycled paper continued to operate the same as the other machines still running virgin paper.' As a result, all of the DocuTech machines now run recycled paper." - Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance webpage,

"Massachusetts has been purchasing only recycled paper from our state contract since 1994. Hammermill Savings DP [now discontinued] and Great White used to be the primary brands and both were great. Later, the awarded vendors also added Georgia Pacific-Geocycle and Domtar-Windsor as two other copy paper options. Now, in addition to Great White and Domtar Recycled, we also carry Fore MP [the Hammermill DP replacement], Plainfield, Springhill, IBM Recycled, Wausau Multipurpose, and Rolland New Life Repro. All products meet the federal standards as well for post-consumer content.
      Concerning the dust issue, we have not heard of an "actual problem" involving either of these papers from using agencies. What we do hear is that the service reps/technicians from the equipment manufacturers (e.g. copier and printer equipment in particular) are the ones telling users that the recycled paper creates dust. Their information - in our opinion, which is based on our experiences over the years - is derived from their experience with the groundwood products of "days gone by" that did in fact cause problems. We eliminated those products from our state contract back in 1995 - shortly after the complaints started coming in. Since then, we require that all our paper on contract meet the same specifications as virgin (e.g. same brightness, acid free archival quality, smoothness, etc.). This then allows us to turn around and require our equipment reps on that contract to agree (in the contract terms and conditions) that the papers on the MA State contract are totally compatible with their equipment, will not void warranties, etc.
      It doesn't solve the problem completely, but it makes an impact. The tough part is getting the message to the ever changing staff of service reps." - Marcia Deegler, Environmental Purchasing Program Manager, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Operational Services Division

"The Department of Environmental Protection's Central Office Duplicating Shop in Harrisburg, PA has three Xerox Docutech high volume copiers that use at least 30% post consumer content paper. In fact after these Docutechs were delivered and set up in our Duplicating Shop, they have not been exposed to any virgin paper. We have also run recycled sheets that contain 50% PC, 70% PC and 100% PC on this equipment with excellent results. On this equipment our average impressions run around 1.5 million per month; this includes single as well as double sided copies.
      In addition to the high volume copiers listed above, DEP Central Office has numerous floor copiers, 915 networked PC printers, as well as numerous fax machines that all use 30% post consumer content paper and we have not experienced any difficulty caused by using recycled paper. Average monthly usage of 8 -1/2" x 11" recycled paper on this equipment is 750,000 sheets.
      We have been using recycled paper for more than nine years and we have not experienced any difficulty in running recycled paper; for us it was just the opposite, it was virgin paper that caused us major problems. Approximately 3-1/2 years ago (at that time we were using paper with a 20% post consumer content) our vendor could not furnish us any recycled paper for one month and instead supplied us with a shipment of virgin paper which resulted in numerous service calls due to major paper jams on floor copiers." - Bonnie Shenk, Department of Environmental Protection, State of Pennsylvania

"For the 30% recycled paper, there is no difference between it and virgin paper. When you use the standard photocopier paper, our end users can see absolutely no difference between that and the virgin paper. At one time with the 30% recycled paper, there used to be a lot of dust or fluff that comes off the paper and it used to do harm to the machines - clog them up and dirty them. The paper that's produced today is equal to or better than the virgin paper. When it comes to the 100% recycled paper, the more recycled content goes in there, the better the paper gets. It's more expensive but it's better. It's hard to believe, but it is. The 100% recycled paper is of far superior quality than the virgin paper. It's thicker and has a nicer finish to it." - Canadian federal government services official, from Following the Paper Trail study, Aurora Institute/Reach for Unbleached (Vancouver, BC, Canada), 2003

LISTENING STUDY: Other users are still experiencing difficulties with the runnability of recycled paper in their machines. Sometimes they link these difficulties to higher-speed equipment, higher-postconsumer content paper, or older equipment.

"There are still quality problems with recycled paper. We have experienced jams on high-speed printers using recycled paper. We can only take so much time to resolve the issue, and then we need to switch to a better-performing paper. You have to look at the value proposition: costs include downtime, labor, etc. Paper for high-speed printers is where the big challenges are." - Kathy Gerwig, Kaiser Permanente

"While I have not personally experienced problems, others I know have experienced problems with recycled (30% paper); generally problems are more likely when using older copiers." - (public agency #1)

"I've used the [30% pcc paper] from [supplier] and found it has considerably more curl as it exits my laser writer, compared to the IP "Great White" with 30% postconsumer. Not a postconsumer problem; however, as a less expensive option it was disappointing to experience so much curl. (I've heard two companies complain about this, as well.) My laser printer is an 11-year-old LaserJet IIP Plus that has been a great machine for me. The problem is not debilitating because I don't use large amounts of paper at a time, but I can see where printing even 10-page reports on a shared printer could be problematic if the paper curled too much. Paper jams in equipment sometimes and it can be justified-but other brands might work better and other lots of the same brand might be better. The post-consumer content is often blamed instead of other qualities of the paper." - Jodi Cahillane, Recycled Paper Coalition

"We have very rarely experienced difficulties using recycled paper in particular types of equipment. Our 30% paper has been known to curl more than a virgin sheet on a laser printer that has a very high heat setting. We identified the recycled content as the source of the problem because the curling didn't happen with virgin paper-we addressed the problem by reducing the heat setting on the printer." - Tyson Miller, Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative

"I bought 2 reams of Conservatree paper (Cadence Cover 65# linen) many years ago for use in cover letters and resumes, and it has lasted a long time. It worked well in my old laser printer, but I do not get as good results with my Epson 777 inkjet. There is slight blurring (the paper seems too absorbent, perhaps), but worse than that, it doesn't feed well. Two or more sheets get sucked through at a time, resulting in many botched print jobs and wasted paper. You may think this is crazy, but I think the paper was either cut wrong (it appears to be a fraction of a millimeter wider than the normal 8.5x11), or else it expands with humidity. This problem doesn't happen with plain white unrecycled copy paper from Staples." - Jennifer Gitlitz, Senior Research Associate, Container Recycling Institute

"Our office of 70 people buys [100% postconsumer copier paper] exclusively and we have no problems with the paper in our mid-size copiers, printers, and faxes. However, another environmental agency that is using the paper began experiencing problems this summer. Unfortunately, I've been too busy to follow-up and resolve the issue with either [the paper manufacturer] or Hewlett-Packard. In a nutshell, here's the problem they've reported: The paper seems to work on HP's 4si and 5si printer series. However, when the agency upgraded to an 8000 HP printer, the paper began to jam consistently. They replaced the new 8000 printer with a refurbished 8000 and the jamming continued. After several service calls, the contractor, GE Capitol, said they would no longer take service calls on the printer if they continued to use the 100% post-consumer paper. The agency switched to the Great White 30% paper and has stopped having problems. I'm not sure what the problem is, but my guess is that the new printer may have a more complex path system which is causing it to jam easier with a paper that may have a higher rag content." - Kelly Luck, Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance

"We had some minor problems with paper jams with 100% PCC copy paper in a model of copier that we were told typically experienced problems with 100% PCC, for whatever reason. The majority of our copiers ran them fine." - Norm Thompson

"We use recycled paper for non-white paper and when the price is right. Some brands are a problem in copiers too." - (Facility management company)

"I have had reports from some of our field reps that they have had trouble, but have no specifics." - (Document management company)

"In order to see whether it would be feasible to use 100% recycled paper in the computer labs, [we] conducted a 9-month test in two of our labs . . . .Both labs had new HP LaserJet 8000 printers [7 between them] installed. We used [a 100% recycled] paper in [one lab] and [a100% virgin] paper in [the other]. Close to one-half million pages were printed in each lab . . . .
      We compared the following between the two labs: number of paper jams that were reported to us, paper dust accumulation, mechanical roller wear, and assessment of parts needing to be replaced. . . .
      The printers using 100% recycled paper had extensive paper dust. Therefore, additional cleanings would need to be done if we switched to using only 100% recycled paper. Printers using 30% recycled paper currently need to be cleaned four times per year depending on environment and usage. . . . After vision inspection and analysis of the amount of dust residue, it was estimated that by using 100% recycled paper, the printers will need to be cleaned monthly. . . .
      Rollers also wear faster on machines using the 100% recycled paper. Rollers in printers using 30% recycled paper need to be replaced every 125,000 pages. Rollers in printers using 100% recycled paper need to be replaced every 50,000 pages. . . .
      There were almost twice as many paper jams reported in the lab using the 100% recycled paper (average of 9.2 jams per 100,000 pages printed) as in the lab using 100% virgin paper (average of 4.7 jams per 100,000 pages printed). . . . [Paper jamming] does occur over twice as often with 100% paper as with 30%. . . . - "Computer Laboratory Printer Paper Test" (unpublished), Academic Computing, Humboldt State University (Arcata, CA), October 2001

"Of complaints indicated about recycled content papers, respondents prioritized paper jams (some 13% of total respondents had heard this critique), the aesthetics of the paper (12.5%), and the amount of paper dust created (10%). In all, just over 1/3 of all respondents shared specific criticisms of the performance qualities of recycled content papers." - Following the Paper Trail study, Aurora Institute/Reach for Unbleached (Vancouver, BC, Canada), 2003

LISTENING STUDY: In the experience of some, there are more generic explanations for problems. They often suggest that equipment users and, in some cases, equipment servicers could benefit from education about the fact that the characteristics of recycled paper have changed over the past several years and current performance problems are less likely to be due to the recycled content. This might help broaden the search for the causes of runnability problems beyond the fiber content of the paper used.

"I don't really think that there are problems using recycled paper in printers/copiers. I have successfully been doing that even in my home printer for about 10 years now. The problems that I encounter seem to be with perception. I feel like folks who service the equipment are really quick to blame the problem on recycled paper." - Eleanor Chapman, Los Alamos National Laboratory

"Well, a fair number of folks that we do outreach with have heard that there's dust problems, jamming etc. When we mention who buys recycled from our Purchasing Cooperative and provide samples, we usually overcome that barrier." - Tyson Miller, Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative

"We have not experienced any problems that we attribute to the recycled content. However, as recently as this year, a [copier service] technician tried to tell us that the recycled content paper was causing the copier to jam. Our Business Services Manager promptly reminded him where he was and told him that the copier should work, as promised, with recycled content paper or we would get another copier." - Andrew Hurst, California Integrated Waste Management Board

"The perception is that recycled paper jams copiers and printers. I've actually been told by more than one repair man that I should not use recycled paper because it will cause problems. Though I personally believe the repairmen scapegoat the recycled content paper in order to avoid admitting the problem is with their machines. I suspect the problem was more with the machine than with the paper; older models may have more trouble digesting the recycled stuff." - Marcella Guerriero, The Lowcountry Environmental Education Program (LEEP)

"We have problems from time to time but we are not smart enough to know if it is paper related or printer (hardware) related." - (consumer products company)

"The dust issue may have arisen with a paper called Unity DP. This paper has been discontinued for a number of years. This paper was NOT made from post consumer waste office paper, but from newspapers. It was 100% post consumer waste newsprint. It was an inferior product, because the material it was made up of was not appropriate for office use. It seems to have 'tainted' recycled office paper's reputation.
I have heard of instances of jamming, but these were usually solved by adjusting the copier intake mechanism. Incidentally the jamming is not limited to recycled papers, I have talked to techs, and they have had to make adjustments for virgin paper as well." - Government Purchasing Project

"King County has elected to rent its nearly 600 copiers, using a WA state contract. We have found that the main variable involved in paper performance is humidity. In 2000, we moved our own offices from the administration building, which is 8 blocks away from Puget Sound, to another building, which is only 1 block from the water. It's unclear if the difference is due to proximity to water or idiosyncrasies of the building's HVAC system, but the humidity seems higher. Paper that ran fine in machines that ran fine now clumps and jams. In the end, it seems a matter of getting the techs to adjust the equipment for whatever paper we are running, and getting them to come re-adjust when there is a move. We have not detected any greater number of troubles with recycled papers." - Eric Nelson, Environmental Purchasing Program King County Procurement Services, Seattle, WA

"In the Buy Recycled Training program, we are still hearing complaints about recycled paper running in copiers. The complaints are certainly down from where they were several years ago, but we still hear general comments about jamming, etc. I can't give you specifics concerning specific types of equipment, paper characteristics, age, etc. We usually refer the people who make these comments to the U.S. Conference of Mayors study of several years ago and recommend blind tests (to avoid bias). On a related front, we still hear about the 'copier repair person problem.' In this case, I strongly recommend sending a letter to the VP or above of the copier manufacturer to ask about using recycled paper (knowing that the copier manufacturer will not recommend against recycled paper). We are not hearing similar concerns about printing." - Richard Keller, Chief of Recycling, Maryland Environmental Service

"Some manufacturers and service companies blame machine faults on recycled paper and insist that this is not covered by their service warranty. Whilst genuine problems may occur with some products, other factors linked with human error, lack of user experience, training, and the age of the equipment can have a substantial impact upon the effectiveness of the equipment.
      For example, older equipment is less likely to be compatible with some, but not all, recycled papers. Recycled paper is typically drier and creates a higher level of dust than its virgin counterparts. This may create a tendency to jam printing and copying machines, particularly if double-sided copying is being done. Regular cleaning avoids this problem....
      Many companies successfully use recycled paper in their machines without problems. The key lies in getting the compatibility right between the paper and the equipment, whether owned or leased. Increasingly manufacturers of recycled paper and machines are providing guarantees or endorsements….
      Results of performance tests often reveal no significant operational difficulties, i.e. jamming or increased machine servicing, if the conditions are right from the start. 'Blind' testing can be a useful experiment to overcome resistance to recycled papers, especially when an item's performance equals or out-performs the existing product in use. All reputable paper mills and suppliers offer trial samples to genuine customers....
The issue of invalidating service warranties by using recycled paper can be problematic, as clauses concerning paper use are often written into the service contract from the outset. Some copier manufacturers specify sole use of their own brands of recycled paper whilst others recommend particular brands." - Waste Watch, National Recycling Forum, United Kingdom

"The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Paper Task Force published a comprehensive report on the usage of various types of paper with 20% PCC. The Task Force determined that paper jams are not caused by recycled paper but most often are a function of four factors: 1) auto-duplexing, 2) the speed and condition of the equipment, 3) the quality level of the paper, and 4) operator errors." - original source: Environmental Defense Fund, 1995, Paper Task Force Recommendations for Purchasing and Using Environmentally Preferable Paper, White Paper No. 1, quoted in "Availability, Performance, and Cost of Recycled Paper," North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance

"Our impression is that the 'dust' devil came from some papers from the 60's that really were bad that way, and even some newer papers that were of poor quality or inappropriately marketed. Before anybody ever heard of 'Buy Recycled,' there was a huge range of quality in papers. After recycled content became an objective, especially for governments, the marketplace rushed to develop recycled content papers. After the dust settled, as it were, there was still a huge range of quality, with recycled and virgin papers each covering the same, familiar, quality range. The recycled content was not relevant to the quality, but there was that big R on the box, and it became a handy scapegoat (not to say NObody was selling junk. This is a free country, after all)." - Eric Nelson, Environmental Purchasing Program, King County Procurement Services, Seattle, WA

"There are urban myths associated with paper that is recycled such as the fact that it gets stuck in office machines. These urban myths have basically been totally overcome through time but they are very difficult, as urban myths are, to eliminate entirely." - provincial government employee, from Following the Paper Trail study, Aurora Institute/Reach for Unbleached (Vancouver, BC, Canada), 2003

"25, 30 years ago if you talked to anybody about recycled paper it was like voodoo - people didn't want it, it was dusty, it jammed up their machines, the quality wasn't there; there was every excuse in the book. It took about 15 years for that to work its way through the system, from a marketing perspective. At one point you had the business machines people saying that they'd void your warranty if you used recycled sheets in their machines. And quite frankly, it took the mills 15 years to up the quality of the sheets. Now, going back 5 or 6 years ago it became very chic for companies to use recycled paper - the grainier the better - and the paper was of a very high quality and worked well in the machines, it looked nice and it became really ingrained in the marketplace." - environmental products expert, from Following the Paper Trail study, Aurora Institute/Reach for Unbleached (Vancouver, BC, Canada), 2003



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