Understanding Recycled Paper
Here is a list of terms that are quite often used when talking about recycled paper:
Recycled paper, as defined by EPA guidelines, contains at least 30% post-consumer fiber. The balance of paper content may come from virgin tree fiber, so be sure to check the content of the paper you choose. Recycled paper made from 100% post-consumer waste is generally considered the most ecological choice in recycled papers.
Pre-Consumer Waste (aka Post-Industrial Waste)
This is paper that has not met its intended use by the consumer, and includes paper scraps left over from manufacturing.
This is paper that has been used by the consumer and returned through a recycling program, thus keeping it out of a landfill.
Processed Chlorine Free
Processed chlorine free refers to paper in which the recycled content is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives. Chlorine bleaching produce dioxins and other toxins and pollutants, which have been associated with adverse affects on the immune and reproductive systems of humans and wildlife.
Totally Chlorine Free
Totally chlorine free refers to paper in which the virgin fiber content is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives.
Elemental Chlorine Free
Elemental chlorine free refers to paper processed without elemental chlorine but with a chlorine derivative such as chlorine dioxide. Although less harmful than using chlorine, it is still considerably worse than totally chlorine free or processed chlorine free.
Virgin fiber is new fiber that has never been used by a manufacturer before to make paper or other products.
Non-wood or Tree-Free Fiber
These are fibers that come from sources other than trees, such as agricultural byproducts, cotton, kenaf, hemp, and flax straw. These fiber sources are commonly used in other parts of the world, and can be cultivated here to help reduce pressure on forest lands.