Paper Merchants: Telling the Sustainability Story of Print and Paper Products

When paper was invented by the Chinese more than 2,000 years ago, merchants quickly became an integral part of its history, taking paper making around the world and helping to develop its many variations and uses. Today’s merchants remain a vital part of the paper chain, linking paper to people and delivering value to those they serve in more ways than ever before.

In Values a Merchant Provides, the National Paper Trade Association (NPTA), a long-time member and enthusiastic supporter of Two Sides, spells out important ways merchants add value to the paper chain. These include not only critical operational values such as managing efficient supply chains, developing strong relationships with mills, sharing best practices and fostering creativity, but also efforts that speak to the very foundation of the industry, namely, proactively telling the great sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Aligned with these efforts, the paper merchant community supports a variety of organizations that promote fiber-based sustainability options. These include Two Sides, which currently has 29 merchant companies as members.

As a tie-in that focuses on the Values a Merchant Provides, NPTA recently launched PaperChain, a digital content hub designed to help merchants, mills and their consumers stay informed on developments and trends in the paper industry. Featuring new insights, innovations and consumer resources each month, the site includes a dedicated Sustainability section that helps merchants share the inherently sustainable nature of paper in its many forms. Visitors to the site will find content that is both informative and entertaining, from stories about real-world product solutions and fact sheets to useful and creative recycling ideas.

For example, among the site’s current features are a Two Sides fact sheet on why both recycled fiber and fresh wood fiber are essential for the paper lifecycle, and an engaging, downloadable infographic on why paper bags are a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.  An interesting video explains why corrugated packaging was the first choice of the National Mango Board as they worked with Cal Poly University to develop a new shipping box that is stronger, safer and more sustainable that previous packaging. And there are a host of creative project ideas for repurposing cardboard boxes from the Paper and Packaging Board.

To help spread the word about PaperChain, NPTA has put together a package of social media messages, images and links that are available to its members and other stakeholders. If you’d like to join the conversation, please contact Priscilla Gil at

Member Spotlight

Headquartered in Coquitlam, BC, West World Paper (WWP) is a merchant that services the commercial print market in Western Canada. The company offers a wide range of fine paper products, office papers, envelopes, wide format media, janitorial and industrial products. In addition, WWP has an internal converting department that produces engineering/CAD rolls, films, kraft paper and newsprint rolls.  From its 30,000-square-foot headquarters and another 12,000-square-foot facility in Calgary, AB, the company manages more than 2,000 products and operates its own fleet of trucks, making distribution to customers in the region fast and efficient.

West World Paper has built a strong reputation not only for providing high quality products, but also for its commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The company assures that the pulp in all products it buys is sourced from sustainably managed forests. They have an extensive internal recycling program as well as a recycling program for customers. And they are big supporters of other local businesses and charities. WWP Director Shawn Leach says Two Sides membership is a perfect complement to the company’s sustainability efforts.

“Two Sides is a tremendous advocate for our industry, and West World Paper is proud to be a member,”  Leach says. “There are so many misconceptions about our industry and our products, and Two Sides effectively busts those myths by highlighting the many studies and facts from trusted third-party sources in an easy to understand format. And being a non-profit organization only adds to the credibility of their messaging and materials, which West World Paper uses regularly to help educate our customers and consumers,” he says.

West World Paper’s extensive internal recycling program recovers all paper, corrugated, wood and plastic used in its facilities, which is then sent to a local recycling company. The wide format paper rolls that WWP converts for the reprographic industry include paper cores and plastic caps. When the company delivers new rolls to a customer, they pick up the cores and caps from the empty rolls and reuse them in the converting process, preventing them from going to the landfill.

“In addition to our environmental commitment, we’re also big supporters of our local economy,” WWP Director Kevin Burden explains.  “We make every decision with our local community top of mind.  We use a local bank, local legal and accounting services, local graphic designers and of course, local printers.  We want people to understand that when they support West World Paper, they are supporting our local community.”

WWP also supports the local community with its charitable contributions.  One of the company’s key efforts is its participation in the Starfish Backpack Program, an effort supported by local Rotary Clubs across British Columbia which provides weekend meals to families in need.  Many weeks throughout the year, WWP employees fill backpacks with meals and snacks and deliver them to a local school for students to take home for the weekend.  The students return the empty backpacks to the school, and the volunteers pick them up to be refilled.

“We have a highly experienced, dedicated team that takes a great deal of pride in going above and beyond for our customers and our community,” Burden says.  Giving back is just one of the many ways they help transform West World Paper’s sustainability commitment into action.”

For more information about West World Paper, visit