Special Report: Fundraising 101 Direct Mail
In selecting recycled stock, consider how it is processed and categorized. Recycled papers typically are categorized by the bleaching process used to create them. These categories are TCF (Totally Chlorine Free), ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) and PCF (Process-Chlorine Free).
TCF means that no chlorine compounds are used to whiten virgin-content paper. Therefore, any paper with post-consumer waste cannot be designated TCF. ECF is fairly common, and its bleaching process uses chlorine dioxide as the bleaching agent instead of chlorine gas, significantly reducing the dioxins discharged from a paper mill. PCF indicates that no chlorine was used in the production of the recycled product.
PCF is the environmental alternative for processing recycled fibers (not virgin) when it is unclear whether or not chlorine bleach was used in the original processing. It does not indicate that the fiber has never been bleached using chlorine during its lifetime.
Think about envelopes, too. A new biodegradable window film option is made from either processed wood pulp or polylactic, a bioplastic made from readily renewable resources such as corn, soybeans or potatoes. PLA features excellent clarity, scratch resistance and tear strength, and is also approved by the Postal Service MERLIN tests — a test of a bar code to make sure it is readable by the USPS system’s machines.
It’s also important to understand the two certification options for paper:
- The Sustainable Forestry Initiative was developed by the American Forest and Paper Association. Members of SFI commit to ensuring the sustainability and health of our forests by adhering to the principles of the program, and by educating loggers and foresters in best management practices. In order to be certified, an SFI program participant must undergo a thorough review of its operations by an accredited audit firm.
- Since 1933, the Forest Stewardship Council has overseen a global initiative to promote sustainable forestry. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, the council sets the criteria and standards that address economic, social and environmental concerns. FSC certification has strong recognition throughout the world, and it strives to offer its members a “chain of custody” certification process between member companies.
Will 2009 be a “Happy New Year”? Right now it looks uncertain, but we do know that changes and challenges often go hand in hand with opportunity. Smart direct marketers will keep on mailing and, no matter what, will remain attuned to best practices that control costs, match paper to message and work “green.”