It is important to understand the terminology used by manufacturers when purchasing recycled towel and tissue products. They often reference two categories when discussing recycled paper products — recovered fiber and post consumer waste material.

Recovered fibers are generated from what is left after the completion of the paper making process. This includes, but is not limited to, mill wastes, wood chips, bindery trimmings, butt rolls and mill wrappers, obsolete inventories and rejected unused stock.

This recovered fiber is a globally traded commodity and is highly sought after. Europe, the Far East and the Americas account for 90 percent of the global trade, which is more than 200 million tons.

The second category is post consumer waste materials, which are finished products that went out into the world and were recovered from the waste stream for the purpose of recycling. This category makes up a smaller percentage of the paper fiber used in the U.S., but the government standard for recycled paper use has increased the demand for these post-consumer materials.