Taboo Tuesday: Top 10 "Green" Myths

The words “green” and “sustainable” have quickly become catch phrases in society today. Along with that has come a lot of mis-information, products claiming to be environmentally friendly when they are not (aka green-washing), and flat out lies about the green movement. Today, I am going to address the top 10 myths about environmentally sound choices in printing.

Recycled paper is more damaging for the environment than non-chlorine bleach fiber from sustainable sources.

Recycled paper is made from waste paper, which means it spares new trees from being cut down. It also uses less energy and emits fewer green house emissions.

Recycled Paper is more expensive and poorer quality than other papers.

Not always. When recycled paper was more of a novelty, it was more expensive and sometimes a poorer quality. However, an increased demand has driven paper companies to expand their portfolio of recycled paper and aided in price reduction. Combined with the advancement in recycled paper technology, it has become almost impossible to tell recycled paper from virgin paper, even at price point.

The paper industry is helping sustainability by re-planting trees.

This is only true to a point. FSC standards ensure that the natural woodland is respected and biodiversity is encouraged. Adversely, commercially managed tree plantations are treated with pesticides, usually grow one crop, weeded and barren of wildlife.

Paper is made from tropical rain forests.

While deforestation of the rain forest is a critical issue, most papers are not made from tropical hard woods. The wood is just too hard. Paper is usually made from northern forests’ softwoods. However, there are concerns that native forests have been cleared to make room for commercial plantations.

MTH #5
Burning Paper for energy is better than recycling.

Paper can be recycled multiple times. This saves trees, water, energy and reduces pollution.


The paper production industry doesn’t create a lot of green house gases (GHGs).

The paper and pulp industry is the third largest polluter in Canada and the United States. One of the benefits to using recycled fibers is that it emits 38% less green house gases.


All papers are recycled. No need to ask for it.

Recycled paper only accounts for about 10% of the printing and writing paper industry. Demand for recycled paper has dropped, due the fact many buyers believe most papers are recycled. Yet 90% of paper produced is still virgin fiber paper.

FSC certification is only for paper.

FSC chain-of-custody tracking (COC) is for mills, manufacturers, printers and distributors. Chain of Custody certification ensures a company's ability to track certified products throughout their inventory and distribution processes. Once a product has broken the chain of custody (i.e. used a source not certified FSC) it can no longer be considered FSC and loses the use of the FSC certified logo.

Non-wood fibers are better than those made from trees.

The jury is still out on this one. Non-wood paper sources range from annual crops grown specifically for paper fiber such as flax, kenaf, hemp and jute; to agricultural residues such as straw; industrial residues come from cotton and even natural, uncultivated crops like bamboo. Trees have longer life spans and therefore need fewer pesticides than annual crops. Yet, the processes for the non-wood fibers use milder chemistry. More research is still needed for this myth.

MYTH #10
De-inking paper is more harmful to the environment than virgin fiber processes.

De-inking paper for recycling often uses detergent or sodium hydroxide, which is a main ingredient in soap and is also used commercially for washing fruit and vegetables. Often, the residual waste can be used as fertilizer.


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