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Print is Recyclable.
Print is 100 percent recyclable, but not all print is recycled. Over the past decade, the paper industry has set and exceeded increasingly aggressive goals for paper recovery. In 2003, the paper industry set a goal to recover 55 percent of the paper used in America by 2012. Using educational efforts combined with creation and promotion of community recycling programs, the 55 percent recovery goal was achieved five years ahead of the target. The industry is raising the stakes by establishing a new goal of 60 percent recovery by 2012. The new goal represents a tremendous increase in recovery, as each percentage point represents nearly 1 million additional tons of recovered paper ó enough to fill more than 14,000 railroad cars.
A common misperception is that the main benefit of recycling paper is to save trees. While this is a feature, most paper now comes from sustainable wood supplies and from trees that are grown and harvested specifically for this purpose. Each time paper is recycled, the fibers get broken down, eventually resulting in fibers that are too short to use. So unlike other recycled products, some virgin wood pulp needs to be included in recycled paper. This means that there will always be a need for new trees to support the paper process, even with maximum recycling. However, because the wood fiber is being used more efficiently, the main benefit of using recycled paper is to reduce the amount of paper going to landfill sites.
Itís not always obvious which buying decisions (recycled paper versus virgin fiber) yield the best results for reducing greenhouse gases and producing real environmental improvement. For example, using increasing amounts of recovered fiber in some products, such as higher grades of coated paper, may actually increase the amount of chemicals, energy, water and fiber needed in the pulping process to meet quality standards. However, assessments by Environmental Defense and the Alliance for Environmental Innovation indicate clear environmental benefits to recycled paper, especially when the recycling process is used to produce lower grades of paper products such as tissue, newsprint, and unbleached and uncoated paper products.
Quad/Graphics operates the nationís largest trim waste collection system of its kind in our Sussex, Wis., plant. The system collects paper waste from our Press and Finishing areas and then compresses and bales it for recycling. To facilitate recycling, wastepaper is sorted into 24 different grades.
ReMIX is a national awareness and educational campaign to increase magazine recycling. Research shows that Americans support recycling, but are often uncertain about what can be recycled. A goal of ReMix, which stands for Recycling Magazines is Excellent, is to make sure everyone knows how easy it is to recycle magazines and catalogs right along with their other paper recycling.
Types of Recycled Content
Pre-consumer waste content paper contains fiber that was recycled from waste at a paper mill, fabricator or printer. It has never been used by a consumer and often is derived from the trimmings that occur in manufacturing or from unsold magazines and catalogs.
Post-consumer waste (PCW) content paper contains fiber that has been in circulation in finished form and has been recycled by the end user. It is considered the most environmentally efficient paper because it has had at least one useful life before returning to service.
Totally recycled fiber (TRF) content paper contains 100 percent recycled material and may contain pre- and post-consumer content.
The Recycle logo indicates that a printed product is made with recycled materials. Use of the recycle logo is not regulated by law. However, the Federal Trade Commission does offer guidelines. Recycled content is often expressed in an equation denoting its percentage of content. It is generally labeled with the total amount of recycled content
Recycling at Quad
Gruff, our environmental "spokesgoat" (a creation of our Founder, the late Harry V. Quadracci), regularly reminds Quad/Graphics employees "To Be a Gruff Ö Recycle Stuff" through his own column in the employee newspaper as well as through e-mail messages. Employees may e-mail Gruff for information about recycling Ė or any other environmental issue Ė and heíll respond. The creation of a spokesgoat has enabled us to elevate awareness about environmental issues (with clients, too) in a fun way.
"E-waste" such as discarded computers, monitors, PDAs, mobile phones and gaming consoles are a growing global crisis, according to Green Citizen, an electronics recycling organization. Each year, an estimated 400 million units of obsolete electronics are thrown out. Between 1.5 and 1.9 million tons of computers, TVs, VCRs, etc. are junked. In 2005, 98 million cell phones were thrown away. By 2010, the total number of electronic units to be thrown away is projected to be 3 billion. Americans discard 133,000 obsolete personal computers each day, according to U.S. News & World Report.
How Green Is Your Printer?
Quad/Graphics has prepared specific questions that should be included as part of every request for proposal (RFP) to suppliers Ė especially printers. The questions are based on our decades of sustainability experience.
What Others Are Saying
"I don't think the general public knows enough about the significant efforts Quad does to go above and beyond what's required of them."
Scott Manley, Environmental Policy Director with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce