The difference between recycled paper and… recycled paper

May 7, 2009

Not all recycled paper is created equal: different words, different percentages and different certifications make buying paper a lot more complicated than it used to be. But here’s a bit of clarity.

Paper made from Post-Consumer Waste is made from honest-to-goodness recycled paper: material that has gone through one consumer cycle, been collected via recycling centers or blue boxes, and re-processed into new paper. The percentage of Post Consumer Waste in paper varies, but if you find a product that’s 100% Post-Consumer Waste, you’ve got the best – because it’s made of material diverted (rescued?) from the landfill.

Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is made from scrap paper that never made it to the consumer: trimmings from print shops and newspapers, surplus copies printed, etc. Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is better than paper made from virgin pulp, but not as good as paper made from Post-Consumer Waste.

And since most paper available is not 100% recycled, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council – or Green Seal ( logo that certifies that the non-recycled portion of the paper comes from sustainably managed forests.

In the news

Ontario’s first annual 50 Million Tree Weekend ( happens this Friday and Saturday: ordinary citizens are being challenged to plant trees in support of the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign (

Trees play a vital role in the world’s carbon cycle, and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Learn more here:


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