Where do printing companies get their paper and how sustainable is print?
Print Values Trees
Most paper now comes from sustainable forests. These forests are essentially “tree farms,” where trees are grown as a crop, just like broccoli or wheat. When these trees are harvested, new stocks are planted. Print on paper gives landowners a financial incentive to renew forests rather than convert them for other uses, such as development.
Print Uses “Waste”
One-third of the fiber used to make paper comes from wood chips and sawmill scraps; another third comes from recycled paper. Overall, in the United States nearly 80 percent of the over 400 paper mills use recovered fiber to make some or all of their paper products, and of these, approximately 115 mills use recovered paper exclusively.
Print is Recycled
But that’s not the complete story. Print on paper is recycled and reused. In 2009, for example, 63.4 percent of all paper used in the United States was recycled, and this number increases each year with more deliberate curbside and drop-off collection systems. Recycled paper is used to make everything from construction products to consumer goods.
Print is Responsible
Just 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper. In the U.S. a growing percentage of the wood used to produce paper comes from certified forests. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) track fiber content from certified lands through production and manufacturing to the end product. There are certified forests in over 80 countries.
From sustainable forests to the renewable nature of trees and the recyclability of paper, the print and paper industries have a positive environmental story to tell—one in which print on paper and healthy forests thrive hand-in-hand.
- Edward L. Glaeser, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, “A Road Map for Environmentalism,” Boston Globe, May 21, 2007.
- U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste.
- American Forest and Paper Association.
- International Paper, Down to Earth, “Is it Worth Printing?”