Chlorine Free Paper Issues

 

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Study Overview

1. What do you mean by "environmental paper"?

2. There are an awful lot of questions. How do you expect people to answer all of them?

3. Some of the questions seem to be slanted, or already assume an answer. How, then, can you be unbiased about responses to them?

4. Conservatree is known for opinions on a lot of the Listening Study questions. How can you possibly give a fair hearing to others' opinions with which you might disagree?

5. How do you choose the quotes to publish?

6. How do you ensure that the quotes in the reports fairly represent people's views?

7. Do you intend to quantify them?

8. I just use recycled paper. I don't have any particular technical expertise about it, so would my comments even be useful?

9. How is this study different from other studies that have tried to accomplish similar goals?

10. How can I find out when reports or updates are published?

11. I thought you were going to publish this a year ago. Why is it so late?

Study Specifics

12. You don't have a huge long list of responses for some of the questions. Doesn't that mean those questions weren't covered well?

13. Why don't you list the names of papers that people said didn't perform well?

14. You say that some of the technical information in these reports conflicts with other statements and that some people might consider some statements debatable or inaccurate. Then how are readers supposed to make sense of them? How can they know what information to trust?

Confidentiality

15. If I answer a question, will my name and company/organization automatically appear in a report?

16. Why are some people identified and others not?

17. If you will honor requests for no public identification, why do you want any at all?

18. Will EPA have access to all the responses to this project, and could they then become public property?

Funding Questions

19. What is the nature of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's support?


1. What do you mean by "environmental paper"?

This term can mean different things to different people, depending on their point of view. We deliberately want to leave it ultimately undefined, both because we expect this field to evolve further, with new understandings of what makes a paper "environmentally sustainable," and because we want to leave the door open to new arguments.

Initially, we are referring to recycled paper, "tree free" or "non-wood" (agricultural crops and agricultural residues), chlorine free (TCF, PCF, enhanced ECF, and unbleached), and "sustainably forested" (certified and non-old growth), and combinations of these, both within these fiber categories and with virgin wood fiber. Some of these, such as ECF, are considered "environmental" by the paper industry but not by many environmentalists, and we intend to explore these differences of opinion.

We also expect that these categories may expand. For example, someone may make the case that another source of fiber enhances environmental sustainability, or that a particular production method sharply reduces energy or water use or significantly reduces pollution and should be considered "environmental."

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2. There are an awful lot of questions. How do you expect people to answer all of them?

We do not expect people to answer all of them. Rather, we want people to choose the questions that they are most interested in - which ones do you know most about, or which ones concern you the most, or which ones make you angry or hopeful? Feel free to answer any, and as many, questions as you want to.

We also are asking people specific questions, when we know they have the background to give us particular perspectives and explanations. But if we don't reach you, please let us know what you think, anyway.

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3. Some of the questions seem to be slanted, or already assume an answer. How, then, can you be unbiased about responses to them?

While we tried to word the questions in as unbiased a manner as possible, some are worded in the ways we usually hear them asked. Those wordings seem to represent the ways that people often think about them, so we felt they would be best expressed in those words. However, the wording is not intended to limit the responses. If you find the wording slanted, tell us about it and how you think of it differently. That's what we want to hear!

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4. Conservatree is known for opinions on a lot of the Listening Study questions. How can you possibly give a fair hearing to others' opinions with which you might disagree?

You're right, we have opinions on a lot of these questions. We also have a great desire to understand these questions in greater depth. We recognize that others have a lot to teach us and we have a lot to learn. Our observation has been that it is only people who have been involved in this field for quite a while, and have been in the midst of many of these debates, who understand the nuances and dynamics of these arguments well enough to help sort them out. We believe that we can listen to and present all sides. You can help keep us on the right track. Please tell us if you feel we're not listening well enough.

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5. How do you choose the quotes to publish?

We want to publish as broad a range of discussion on each issue as possible, and include all points made on each issue. In some cases, we know of people or reports that address each particular question and we ask for them specifically. In other cases, we have asked questions on list-serves or publicized the Listening Study in public media and received a number of answers. Some responses are not specifically solicited and also welcome.

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6. How do you ensure that the quotes in the reports fairly represent people's views?

In some cases, people have written e-mail responses and we choose the portions most directly related to each question, always using their own words. In other cases, we have interviewed people over the phone, then sent them a written transcript of our notes for them to verify, edit and correct. We do not publish their responses until they have returned an approved version of these notes.

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7. Do you intend to quantify the information in the Listening Study reports?

We do not intend to quantify the answers. It may turn out to be appropriate to indicate that a particular perspective is strongly held by many people, but even in that case, opposing viewpoints will be fully represented as well. The study is not a "popularity contest" and we are not conducting a statistical survey, so the fact that many respondents may make a particular point does not mean that it is necessarily more persuasive than other points. In fact, it could just as easily represent a widely-held misunderstanding.

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8. I just use recycled paper. I don't have any particular technical expertise about it, so would my comments even be useful?

Please tell us what you think! You may have heard that all paper has recycled content, or you may have trouble using recycled paper in your copier, or you may think that manufacturers should take care of getting environmental contents into their papers without bothering consumers to have to learn all about it. These are all valuable comments to us.

There are a number of obstacles to environmental paper development that seem to grow out of generalized public beliefs about the papers. The more that anyone can articulate these, the more comprehensive can be our understanding of what's behind them.

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9. How is this study different from other studies that have tried to accomplish similar goals?

Some studies have looked at only one issue, or one type of environmental paper, such as recycled. Others have surveyed a wide range of issues and then published decisions about which answers they believe are best. There is also a great amount of literature on some of these questions.

The Listening Study is designed to be comprehensive, covering as wide a range of environmental paper issues as possible, and yet not decide "answers" to the issues under debate. Rather, the Listening Study is focused on process. Through listening to as many perspectives as possible, we hope to understand WHY these issues are so contentious, and then suggest methods for finding ways to work on them so that they do not remain obstacles to developing enviornmental paper markets.

Also, we believe that many people interested in these issues are not aware of all the reports and studies that may be relevant. We include references to the relevant literature, so that people become aware of what research has been done.

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10. How can I find out when reports or updates are published?

As they become available, we will announce them to relevant media and list-serves. We will also list them on the View All PDF Documents page, with their new or updated status, so check that page to keep track.

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11. I thought you were going to publish this a year ago. Why is it so late?

Alas or thank goodness (depending on your perspective), Conservatree's legacy has always included taking on projects that others have deemed "impossible." There's something about the challenge . . . plus, many of these "impossible" projects are really necessary, as well. It probably helps that we always underestimate the challenge - otherwise, who in their right mind would do this?!?

In any event, when we started the Listening Study, many people told us, "This is a REALLY BIG project, you know." Yes, we said, we knew . . . but little did we know! Well, it IS big . . . but it is also fascinating, intriguing, and fun. We get to talk to a lot of interesting people about issues we care about. We're working with some terrific partners. And we increasingly see critical roles this study can play in helping to move environmental paper issues forward.

This project was designed to break new ground. We knew it would not be predictable and that we would be creating something new as we went along. We have always had our focus on the conflict resolution and understanding that we believe this project can lead to, but the way to get there is always under construction.

The process of doing the interviews and research we've conducted to date has helped us understand better how to go about this, as well as how to present it. We struggled for quite a while with how to present in the vertical format required and constrained by computer screens and paper what we really wanted to present in a horizontal, non-hierarchical format. We think that the format we've come up with - a synopsis arrangement, followed by the whole body of actual quotes - will help people make sense of each part of the study without getting lost in it, while also maintaining their ability to analyze the issues raised in the quotes themselves. Now that we've worked out the format and have seen so many more potential applications for this work, we are able to cut more quickly to the core of the questions.

Part of this also involves identifying and delving more deeply into "hot spot" issues, some of which have only developed over the past year or so as issues have progressed to new stages beyond when we first envisioned the questions.We have developed a way of conducting "round robins" of questions when answers indicate that there are more complex issues beneath the original questions to explore.

So yes, we thought we'd be able to start publishing this information a year ago, although it was projected to take at least two years. We think what we're able to begin providing now will be more in-depth and useful than what we would have been able to provide on too fast a timetable last year. Especially, though, we appreciate people's support and patience in waiting for these reports.

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12. You don't have a huge long list of responses for some of the questions. Doesn't that mean those questions weren't covered well?

We welcome more responses on any of the questions, but we are not looking for quantity. Rather, we want to represent all the different experiences and perspectives on each question. For some, there are many. For others, there may be fewer. If readers feel we've covered their concerns, that's great. If they feel we haven't, we want them to tell us what their concerns are so we can add them to the list.

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13. Why don't you list the names of papers that people said didn't perform well?

Because they varied so much. For every paper that someone said didn't perform well, someone else said it performed great. Since these responses do not represent a quantifiable study, we did not want readers to make assumptions from them that certain papers do not perform well. There has been no paper that has been consistently reported as performing poorly.

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14. You say that some of the technical information in these reports conflicts with other statements and that some people might consider some statements debatable or inaccurate. Then how are readers supposed to make sense of them? How can they know what information to trust?

This study is about laying out the different sides to the debates about these questions, not about figuring out definitively which one is right. In some cases, some may believe respondents are misinformed. But if they are, that misinformation is part of the obstacle that needs to be identified and resolved. In other cases, who's to say what is misinformation and what is a difference in approach or belief? We think that even misinformation is informative because it rests on underlying beliefs, processes or concerns that are the true issues we need to identify and work out.

But we do think that when readers see the different answers and note the responder, they can make some judgements for themselves about which they might find more helpful in giving them guidance on the question.

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15. If I answer a question, will my name and company/organization automatically appear in a report?

Not unless you approve that. There are a number of ways you can be identified - or not identified. See Join the Discussion for options.

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16. Why are some people identified and others not?

Some respondents cannot make a statement for publication without their company or organization's approval. At the same time, many people in the paper and allied industries have a great deal of experience with many of our questions and could provide explanations and valuable perspectives if they could speak frankly without their comments being represented as their company's official position. Purchasers might be reluctant to talk about their full range of opinions or experiences with environmental papers if their government or company would be identified with their comments.

That's why we believe this study will have great value even without identification of each comment. Since we are most interested in the range of perspectives, and want to gain a solid understanding of what's behind each one, we are not concerned with "who's on what side" of an issue. In fact, in many cases we think it will help discussion of the issues if people's personalities and company or organizational affiliations are taken out of the equation.

At the same time, we know there are cases in which companies certainly WILL want to be publicly identified with particular comments. At the very least, we would like to be able to identify a respondent's experience or sector in order to help readers evaluate the applicability of their comments.

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17. If you will honor requests for no public identification, why do you want any at all?

First, so we know how to make sense of the comments we receive. For example, is a criticism of recycled paper in copiers coming from an end-user, a purchaser, a service technician or an equipment manufacturer? Each will have a different angle on the experience.

Second, so that we can verify details that might be most helpful. For example, with a description of a problem using recycled paper in copiers, we might want to contact the commenter to ask for details such as when the experience happened (was it recent or ten years ago), what kind of paper was involved (e.g. was it a copier paper or other grade), what type of copier (e.g. high-speed, double-siding, small quantity), did it happen to the respondent personally or did they hear about it from others, how did they narrow the cause down to recycled paper, etc.

Third, because after gathering comments on particular questions, we might want to go back to some of the commenters to ask for their response to additional information.

However, if it's important to a respondent to be anonymous, we still welcome their comments. Sometimes it's especially those types of comments that shed the most light on an issue.

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18. Will EPA have access to all the responses to this project, and could they then become public property?

No to both questions. If this were a contract, that might be a concern. But EPA has instead given Conservatree a grant to do this project and therefore is in the position of any other grantmaker. Conservatree is free to carry out the project as we see best, without direction from EPA. We will welcome suggestions and introductions from EPA, just as we seek and welcome them from AF&PA, TAPPI, environmental groups, you, and all other interested parties. EPA will not see any unpublished responses, only the same reports that Conservatree publishes for all to see.

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19. What is the nature of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's support?

EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program, within the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (Pollution Prevention Division), provided a grant to start this project. The EPP office provides information and advocacy for environmentally sustainable products, but does not have regulatory functions.

Additional funding has been provided by the Weeden Foundation.

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