In this article, industry manufacturers answer common questions asked by building service contractors.

Q: Can you help define some common green paper terms such as recycled fiber, post-consumer waste and Process Chlorine Free?

Recycled fiber is material that would have been disposed as waste but instead is sorted and reclaimed by manufacturers to be used as raw material, instead of virgin fiber, to produce new products.

Post-consumer waste comes primarily from all the paper that ends up in recycling bins, at home, the office, at school, etc. after it has been used and served its purpose. This old paper is sorted and sold on the market as post-consumer material.

Traditionally, chlorine was used to clean and bleach fiber before it would end up as paper. This step is necessary to remove contaminants, including ink and color. While many manufacturers still use chlorine compounds, it is possible to use other bleaching products that are less damaging to the environment.
Processed Chlorine Free is a third-party certification indicating that no chlorine-containing compounds have been used during the bleaching process.

— Élaine Tassoni, communications and sustainability advisor and Steve Ott, product manager, Cascades Tissue Group, Waterford, N.Y.

Recycled fiber is paper that has been reprocessed and is comprised of two types: pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste.
Pre-consumer waste — this is offcuts and processing waste is generated outside the paper mill and could potentially go to landfill, and is a genuine recycled fiber source. Also includes de-inked preconsumer (recycled material that has been printed but did not reach its intended end use, such as waste from printers and unsold publications).

Postconsumer waste — this is fiber from paper which has been used for its intended end use and would include office waste, magazine papers and newsprint. As the vast majority of this paper has been printed (either digitally or by more conventional means such as lithography or rotogravure), it will either be recycled as printed paper or go through a deinking process first.

— By Steven Sage, corporate director of sustainability & innovation, Kruger Products, L.P., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Process Chlorine Free (PCF) indicates that no chlorine or chlorine compounds were used in the production of a recycled product. However, it does not indicate that the recycled fibers have never been bleached using chlorine during their lifetime.

— Howard Connell, global sustainability leader for Kimberly-Clark Professional, Roswell, Ga.

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