Submitted: The Two Sides Team February 25, 2012
This article is Part 2 of a two-part series. It offers more examples of self-declarations, specific to the paper industry, and information on certifications
February 2, 2012
yesterdays post I wrote about the rationale behind
eco-logos and illustrated the difference between
self-generated claims and certifications. Now lets take a closer look at
claims for paper.
an example of a self-declaration regarding the environmental attributes of
paper: Paper is made from renewable resources with
high levels of renewable energy and is recyclable.
If you trust me
and/or my credentials, this statement alone might make you feel comfortable
about using paper. It is hard to imagine a material with a stronger
sustainability position. However, it is undeniable that not all paper mills
have the same environmental footprint, and not every company sources their wood
fiber responsibly. Herein lies the value of certification programs.
Lets break down my
statement one element at a time.
Within the wood and
paper products industry it is well understood that stakeholders want assurance
that forest management practices are in place to protect forests and verify
that the source of wood fiber indeed gets renewed and stays as a working forest.
Several international standards have emerged and our mills maintain chain of
custody certifications for the three leading programs: FSC, SFI and PEFC.
If the chain of custody is maintained all the way from the forest to the print
shop floor, projects printed on our papers can carry labels representing these
certification programs. At the consumer level, the label helps to convey
the fact the wood was sourced responsibly. These labels are also being
seen in the solid wood markets on products ranging from timber (e.g. 2x4s) to
cabinetry, flooring, and furniture.
High levels of
a papermaking facility is integrated (the pulp mill attached to the paper mill)
wood waste and by-products are incinerated to generate steam. That steam is
then passed across a turbine to generate electricity and the remaining steam is
used to turn mechanical shafts and provide thermal energy throughout the
mill. This co-generation of steam and electricity makes integrated mills
highly efficient as compared to electric utilities that discard waste heat.
While I have yet to find a certification standard that has developed a program
for overall energy claims, there are multiple standards that exist regarding
the use of renewable energy for electricity.
These programs are based on the generation and trading of renewable energy certificates (RECs).
The chemical recovery boilers at Sappis coated fine paper mills are both
certified in accordance with the Green-e standard and we are therefore able to
make claims in the marketplace that 100% of the electricity for certain
products is certified renewable energy. If a printer is also using certified
RECs, the final product can carry a Green-e label explaining that both the paper and the
printing utilized 100% certified electricity.
recycling has been around since the first paper mills landed in the US, there
is still much confusion regarding the recyclability of certain grades. For a
product to carry a broad claim of recyclability, at least 60% of users must
have access to a facility that can recycle the product. Otherwise a claim
should be supported by an additional clarifying statement such as where
facilities exist. For coated fine papers, the groundwork has been covered and
it is appropriate to make these claims. However, to my knowledge there is no
third party certification for please recycle claims. Several trade
associations have developed logo programs including the MPAs
Please recycle this magazine, the DMAs
Recycle Please blue bin logo, and the EMAs
Please recycle this envelope program. We have also made hi res icons
available for download here.
M. Thompson, Ph.D., is director of sustainable development and technical
marketing at Sappi Fine Paper North America. She has a B.S. in Chemical
Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. and PhD in Paper
Science from the Institute of Paper Science and Technology. Since 1995, she
has held a variety of positions within the paper industry including R&D,
mill environmental, product development for specialties and coated fine paper,
and, most recently, sustainability. Since joining Sappi in 2006, Laura
has quickly emerged as an industry leader in the field of sustainable
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