Direct Mail — With a Conscience
Before PCW paper can be reused, it requires additional processing such as de-inking and bleaching. Several bleaching methods are commonly used, and recycled papers are categorized by the impact these methods have on the environment based on the chlorine content of the recycled paper.
Why all the fuss over the use of chlorine? Because dioxins released during some bleaching processes (such as those that use chlorine gas) are harmful to air, soil and water.
The Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) bleaching process uses chlorine dioxide rather than chlorine gas, reducing the amount of harmful dioxins that exit from the paper mill. Of the three types of bleaching methods, ECF is the most common.
Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) refers to papers that have been recycled and processed without the use of chlorine. The PCF bleaching process is more environmentally friendly than ECF.
Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) indicates that no chlorine compounds have been used in the bleaching process. Oxygen-based compounds, including hydrogen peroxide, are used to whiten the paper instead. The TCF designation applies only to virgin papers, as it’s impossible to know if recycled content has been previously bleached. Papers with any PCW content cannot be designated TCF.
As with the purchase of non-recycled, “virgin” paper, there is a wide range of costs associated with recycled papers. In general, coated papers with a higher PCW content are the most expensive, especially in text and cover weights. The good news is that there are many choices available for all weights, finishes, colors, hues and brightnesses. Your printing- and direct-mail-services providers can help you select a paper that best balances your recycled content needs with your budget.
Start with the forest
The sustainable environmental stewardship movement that’s gaining traction focuses on the responsible use of natural resources. For paper-manufacturing purposes, that means proper forest-management practices for landowners. There are two competing organizations that seek to improve the quality of sustainable forestry, and each tackles the task of responsible forestry differently.