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Paper Sustainability Myths BUSTED

Paper Sustainability Myths BUSTED

It’s a common misconception that by using paper products, such as wrapping paper or envelopes, you are being wasteful and not considerate of the environment. We’re often encouraged to ‘go paperless’ to think about the environment, but is using paper bad for the environment or are we being misled?

Time to separate the facts from the myths…

MYTH: Using paper is bad for the environment

FACT: Paper is actually one of the very few materials that is truly sustainable. Paper is made from wood – a renewable and natural material - and the paper industry is highly committed to maintaining and managing forests. There are two main certification schemes that ensure the paper you use is sourced responsibly - FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Forest certification ensures wood is sourced from well managed forests. Responsible paper, pulp and wood production ensures healthy growing forests.

Paper is the most recycled product in the world

MYTH: Recycling paper does more damage than manufacturing new

FACT: Producing any product completely from scratch causes greater damage to the environment than recycling. Recycling saves water, energy and raw materials. In the case of paper this equates to a 62% reduction in energy and 86% in water!

MYTH: Producing paper destroys forests

FACT: In Europe almost all primary forests are protected and sustainably managed. The cycle of planting, growing and logging is very carefully controlled and between 2005 and 2015 European forests grew by 44,000 square kilometres - an area the size of Switzerland!

European forests are growing!

MYTH: Going paperless is much better for the environment

FACT: How often do you see an email footer telling you to “think before you print” or “consider the environment before printing this email”? This type of statement gives the impression that using paper is harmful to the environment, while electronic communication and information is not, and this is quite misleading.

For example, spending 30 minutes reading an article through a digital device has around the same environmental impact as a printed newspaper and electronic waste is an ever growing issue. E-waste landfills leak toxic chemicals which pollute the air, ground and water and many of the material required for electronic devices are depleting. In contrast, paper is a renewable material and the paper industry is highly committed to sustainable, responsible forestry - re-planting trees, protecting natural habitats of plants and animals and such.

MYTH: Using paper is outdated anyway

FACT: Statistics show that we have a deeper connection with paper material as opposed to electronic. While an email or text from a friend is still nice, to receive a handwritten letter or physical birthday card seems so much more meaningful. The paper industry is ever evolving too, producing not only the obvious items such as cards, paper, books, envelopes, but paper batteries, video cards and even components for laptops and satellites!

print is the most enjoyable way to read books

We may live in a digital world where electronic communication is more and more present in the lives of young people, but paper products are still very highly valued. In fact 80.5% of young people believe they cannot live without paper! Young people also recognise the recycling potential of paper and so choose above other less-recyclable materials. 

MYTH: We use too much packaging

FACT: The main function of packaging is to protect goods while in transit or storage. Protecting goods prevents spoilage, breakage and contamination, thus reducing waste. Additionally packaging can extend shelf-life of a product. Plus, once used, paper based packaging is easily recyclable. 

80% of paper packaging is recycled in Europe

At All Colour Envelopes we are proud to be part of the paper industry and we stock recycled envelopes and recyclable envelopes. We recycle more than 5 tonnes of paper and cardboard every year and actively encourage you to recycle your envelopes. If you would like more information about recycling envelopes then please click here.

Information c/o studies by Two Sides & CEPI (Confederation of European Paper Industries)

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