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Recycled Paper Supplies

the very best in recycled paper and stationery products

  information pages

recycling is natural

forests and the
greenhouse effect

unsustainable forestry

landfill and the
throwaway society

a more
positive image


paper = trees?

beginning of wood pulp

papermaking by hand, c.1790
by hand, c.1790

recycling symbol
what is
recycled paper?

the ABCD system

using the
ABCD classification


The need
for standards

Blue Angel

Environment Rating



Why you should buy recycled paper

Many people are aware that products made from recycled materials are environmentally beneficial, but are not really sure of why. This makes it easier for those with a vested interest in the maintaining the natural-resource-to-landfill cycle to spread selective half-truths to support what they do.

Here we try to set the record straight.

Recycling is natural

In nature, waste is always recycled - only mankind creates systems where waste is a problem. In fact, it is impossible to sustain any system in which waste is not effectively recycled. 200 years ago almost all paper was a recycled product - made from cotton and linen rags, and the use of trees as the basic raw material only dates from about 1850.

Forests and the greenhouse effect

All animals produce carbon dioxide as a by-product of using energy to live. The plant kingdom, and especially trees, turn that carbon dioxide back into oxygen for the air, and carbon, which with the hydrogen element from water they make into cellulose - their structure.

Unfortunately mankind has found other ways to liberate enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - from fossil fuels, ‘locked-up’ below the earth’s surface - while at the same time destroying vast continents of the forests needed to deal with all that gas. The result is the ‘greenhouse effect’, the heating of the atmosphere which threatens the future ability of the earth to sustain life.

Rather than being a quick crop, trees should be left to grow to maturity, and thinned progressively, letting others grow into their place, so retaining their captured carbon for the longest possible time. Being the renewable raw-material par excellence, we will need as much wood as we can produce when the fossil fuels run out, so to use it for any unnecessary purpose is squandering our future. Even now there are much more important uses for it.

Sensitively managed woodlands protect the environment in many other ways. Prolific wildlife habitats encourage the balance of nature so that populations are held in check, rendering pesticides unnecessary.

Unsustainable forestry

Recycled paper is important because of its environmental benefits, which can make a contribution to improving the state of the world for everyone.

Papermaking from virgin pulp is often described with misleading terms such as ‘paper from sustainable forestry’. Here the word sustainable is used only to indicate that as many new trees are planted as are cut down.

The truth is that by any real measure of sustainability agro-forestry is actually environmentally damaging in a number of different ways:

  • mono-cultures of fast growing conifer plantations support relatively little wildlife and can cause acidification of soil and water courses. They exhibit all the bad features of single-crop agriculture at its worst.
  • when cropped they are clear-felled and replanted, a practice which badly disrupts the soil structure and natural eco-systems.
  • cropping is carried out by large-scale machinery which leaves a scarred and disrupted landscape, and offers employment for very few rural people (contrary to the claims of the industry).
  • newly planted trees have difficulty in becoming established in the damaged soil, so herbicides are heavily relied on to prevent competition from other plants.
  • the 'trees-only' culture ensures a rapid build up of pests, especially insects. With no habitat provided for predators the use of insecticides becomes inevitable, further damaging the environment.

Making paper from trees also adds an environmental burden, because:

  • it has to use chemical processes to treat new pulp and create high white finishes.
  • it is a waste of the timber, an increasingly valuable environment-friendly raw material, consisting of locked-up carbon dioxide, with many more vital uses.

Paper from waste needs much less energy and water required to make it compared to wood pulp, greatly reducing both carbon dioxide emissions (from the energy required) and water borne pollution at the same time. The diagram below uses the example of Xerox Recycled paper we supply to illustrate the environmental savings which can be achieved.

Savings mad by recycled paper
Saving the planet's resources - how much can be saved by making recycled paper

Landfill and the throwaway society

Another serious problem is what to do with our waste if we don’t recycle it. Already land-fill is becoming a planning no-go area, and incineration adds to the problems of atmospheric pollution. Paper left to rot still releases the carbon dioxide in its fibre into the air, so re-use is a far better option. Indeed, do we have any alternative other than to recycle? If not, then we must insist on buying products made from recycled materials whenever we can.

A more positive image

Early attempts at recycling paper concentrated on the lowest quality products, and the bad public image this created has been difficult to change. As well as this problem, some virgin-pulp papers - for example copier, where production is vast and competition fierce - make the smaller-scale recycled equivalent appear to be economically unattractive.

This has in turn led people to believe that all recycled paper costs more than the conventional type, which is simply not true. As a general rule, the better the quality if the paper, the more attractive the price of the recycled alternative.

One thing which is not disputed is that recycled paper today can match, quality for quality, most of the conventionally produced grades. If your need is for prestige papers, recycled grades can match the quality of virgin-pulp papers, while being more beneficial for the planet - and therefore for you!


Recycled Paper Supplies - the very best in recycled paper and stationery products