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Understanding Sustainable Paper Options

Understanding Sustainable Paper Options

With so much talk on sustainability, even what used to be simple decisions, such as choosing eco-friendly paper, now seem to involve more confusing acronyms and accreditations than ever! 

There often needs to be more clarity on the best paper to choose, and there is a misunderstanding of the benefits of 100% recycled paper. Equally, few businesses seem to know the difference between recycled and carbon-balanced paper. 

This blog aims to bring clarity so you can make decisions that are most appropriate for you and your business.

Paper Texture

Most standard or carbon-balanced paper is printed on silk, gloss or uncoated, with recycled paper often having a more bumpy feel. 

Some businesses prefer the textured feel as they believe it appears more on to see if it actually is!

FSC Certification

FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. It's basically a special label or certificate telling us that the wood or paper products we buy come from forests managed responsibly and sustainably.

When a forest gets FSC certified, it means the people who own or care for that forest are making sure they don't cut down too many trees. They also protect wildlife and ensure the people working in the forest are treated fairly.

Virtually all paper is FSC (in Europe anyway).

PEFC Certification

PEFC stands for the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. The certification demonstrates that wood or paper products come from forests managed responsibly and sustainably.

Low Carbon Emissions

Low carbon emissions from paper production mean that when we make paper, we use methods and processes that produce little pollution in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other harmful gases.

This is important because it helps protect the environment and reduces the impact of paper manufacturing on climate change.

Produced with Renewable Energy

The energy used to produce the paper comes from sources that won't run out and won't harm the environment. 

It's like using the power of the sun, wind, or water to make paper instead of burning fossil fuels like coal or oil, which can cause pollution and contribute to climate change.

Low Water Usage

Low water usage in paper production means using as little water as possible when making paper. 

Rather than indulging in mass water usage, which can be wasteful and harmful to the environment, the goal is to use only the amount necessary to make the paper. This helps conserve water resources, reduce the environmental impact of paper production, and save money.

It's like being careful not to waste water when you're washing your hands or doing the dishes at home but applied to the process of making paper on a larger scale.

Carbon-Neutral Certification

Imagine that every time a company produces things or performs its business role, it releases a type of pollution called carbon emissions into the air. 

These emissions are like the smoke from a factory or the exhaust from a car, along with the hidden emissions from all digital activity (those server centres use up some serious energy!). Such activities aren't good for our planet because they make the Earth warmer (climate change).

So, when a company wants to be carbon-neutral, it works to compensate for (offset) all the bad stuff it's putting into the air. 

It does this by either reducing its carbon emissions equal to output or by doing things to capture or offset the emissions, like planting trees that (eventually) soak up carbon or supporting clean energy projects.

World Land Trust Certification

World Land Trust (WLT) certification shows how much carbon dioxide (CO2) has been balanced or offset. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. 

When paper products have this certification, the CO2 emissions created during production are balanced. 

Secondly, in return for printing on carbon-balanced paper, the WLT protects and preserves endangered tropical habitats—the more you print, the more m2 of habitat they protect and restore.

If you've not spotted it already, Greener Mail is an accredited carbon-balanced printer with the World Land Trust.

Instant Positive Impact on the Environment

Uniquely, purchasing carbon-balanced paper actually has an instant positive impact on the environment. 


The WLT (which accredits carbon-balanced paper and printers) balances the carbon output by protecting and preserving four critically endangered carbon-rich habitats, preventing them from deforestation and, thus, emitting carbon. Further, they replant trees in deforested areas.

We rarely see an instant impact from our marketing, but in this case, you do! 

Eco-friendly paper, however, doesn't come close to this benefit. Even those offsetting carbon by planting trees won't see a positive impact on our climate for a good 20 years!

Next Step

Hopefully, this has clarified more about how to choose print services that ensure your company remains as green as possible. 

Please get in touch if you'd like to move forward with your print-based marketing and fulfilment.

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