The movement to go green in as many ways as possible is not a new notion. We recycle just about everything these days and for good reason. More often than not people find it odd not to be able to simply take their cans, plastic and paper to the curb anymore and have it magically taken off their hands (hint, hint Livingston City Council). It would seem, then, that going green when you want something printed would be simple as well. Not so fast.
If you request that a printer use recycled paper for your project, do you know what that really means? Recycled paper, for example, is not the same as paper made from Post Consumer Waste (PCW). In the paper industry, recycled is the term used for paper pulp and scrap that is left over from the paper-making process that gets thrown back into the pulper in order to make more paper. Most commercial-grade paper usually has some recycled content in it.
Paper with PCW content, as most people know, is made from paper that you and I send to the recycling center every week. The natural reaction is to request paper that is made of 100% PCW content. It is “true” recycled paper as most people understand it. However, there are two very important questions you need to ask yourself. Do you know what it takes to get the PCW paper back into printable material, and what is your budget?
The fact is, paper is probably the most important aspect of your printed piece. Its finish, brightness, and whiteness factors all contribute to the crispness and color of your final product. And although choosing a PCW paper is initially attractive for green reasons, the amount of chemical processing it takes to get PCW paper back to commercial-grade quality is staggering, and the process yields a very expensive product. And don’t forget, that chemical waste has to go somewhere afterwards.
In the end, you’re going to get a better-looking piece at a more reasonable price by going with a printer’s line of house paper stocks. Not all printers and house stocks are the same, as you can imagine. One can go “light green” if not green by asking the right questions. More on that next time.