The RIC Good Wood Guide


Contents at a Glance...



- Recommended Papers


- Making your own Recycled Paper

- Recycled Toilet Paper & Tissues

- Use Reusable Products


What is Environmentally Friendly Copy Paper?

The Native Forest Network 1 suggests that there are four kinds of paper to be considered for use:

1. One hundred percent post-consumer waste paper - or as near as possible 2;

2. Paper sourced from alternative fibres - such as hemp, kenaf, bagasse, wheatstraw, rice straw, etc 3;

3. Paper that has minimal pulp and papermaking emissions - and does not use chlorine bleaching and is manufactured in a closed loop system (ie, full effluent recycling) 4;

4. Paper sourced from ecologically managed eucalypt or pine plantations 5.

What's the best Recycled Paper to Use?

The best recycled paper 6 for office-type use is not made in Australia. This situation is not bound to change until consumer demand compels Australian paper makers to stop sourcing their pulp from native forests and stop chlorine bleaching it, as well as embrace the necessity of making paper from post-consumer waste.

The best recycled papers are made exclusively from post-consumer waste - yet maintain the high standards necessary for quality photocopying and laser printing. This means that they are not excessively dusty, don't leave residues, and don't curl or distort excessively due to heat or pressure, etc.

The Native Forest Network recommends several European-manufactured papers - because they meet these requirements:

Steinbeis - (or RC 100) from Germany, is distributed by the Paper House 7; is great for photocopying; about $7.50 per ream.

Cyclus - from Denmark, 100 % recycled paper with 0% waste. In Australia and New Zealand it is sold by CPI (Tel: +61 03 9239 3600). CyclusOffice is made of 100% recycled paper and is available in A4 or A3, with or without wholes, 80, 90 and 160 gsm. Cyclus is also available as CyclusOffset (uncoated paper for all types of brochures etc., reels or sheets) and CyclusPrint (coated paper). For more information see

Canon 100 (or Nautilus) - made at the Neuseidler Mill in Austria, and imported and distributed direct by Canon Australia (and therefore not by Amcor). The paper is A4, is of archival quality and can be used for double-sided copying at up to 40 pages per minute. Canon 100 is made of 51 post-consumer waste with 49% waste paper content.

Such 'mainstream' office papers as Reflex 7 and CopyRight 7 are made completely from virgin eucalypt fibre and are chlorine bleached 8. Australian consumption of copy paper increases by 5 percent each year. With the present industry predilection for virgin eucalypt pulp, conventional paper manufacture and consumption (ie, with little or no post-consumer content) places an increasingly destructive burden on our native forests.

Recycle Your Paper!

Most stationers don't stock recycled copy paper. Instead, they display and sell paper made from freshly pulped wood taken from plantation and old growth forest trees. The pulp and/or paper may originate in either Australia, Indonesia, China, Norway, Finland, or any of a host of other places. As much as we should conserve the value of our Australian dollar by buying locally made goods, we cannot in all conscience support the woodchipping industry while it is still exploiting old growth forests. Ask for recycled paper, and buy it even if it is imported. It is better to re-use someone else's paper waste than to pulp our own precius forests!

Salespeople from paper companies have given stationers and newsagents the impression that consumers are not keen on recycled paper because its higher dust content wears down photocopiers quicker than paper made from fresh pulp. To change this perception, you can let your stationer know that you do want recycled paper, and that you believe the paper mills possess the ability to make recycled paper of equal or better quality than the best, fresh pulp paper for laser printers. Presently, there is just no incentive for them to do so while the government continues to allow the logging corporations to strip-out old growth forests to make way for projected future eucalypt pulp plantations. Plantations are actually more economically viable than native forest logging, but there just aren't enough mature plantation trees yet to satisfy demand. And demand for plantation pulp fibre is artifically inflated by the deliberate lack of recycled paper.

Making Your Own Recycled Paper

For paper that will be used for handwriting, your can easily recycle your own waste paper. To do this requires the use of a paper-making kit, which is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from most art suppliers, newsagents, craft shops or environment shops. Kits consist in the main of two frames, one of which contains a screen on which the fresh, wet paper is laid - the 'deckle' screen. Other necessary items which may have to be obtained by the user include a tub, a blender, a large tray, cloth pieces, and some kind of press.

The best kind of raw material for paper making is used photocopy paper. (NB: Please reuse rather than recycle photocopy paper that is only used on one side. Many environment, conservation and community groups make a point of doing mailouts and correspondence on so-called 'one-sided' paper, and in second-hand envelopes. With encouragement from consumers, there is no reason why this practice can't spread throughout the business community and become the norm for most householders.)

Newsprint has very short fibres and consequently does not recycle well. However, it does make a great absorber of excess moisture from the freshly recycled sheets. Shredded office paper is the best of all for recycling (this is what the industrial recyclers prefer), however tearing paper by hand gives just as pleasing a result.

Recycled Toilet Paper and Tissues

Much of the toilet paper which is labelled 'recycled' is not. Generally, it is only around 50 percent post-consumer waste. Manufacturers pass this off as 'recycled' and give themselves a promotional pat on the back. Look for toilet paper which is labelled 100 percent recycled. Also, seek-out single ply sheets, since they last longer and are less likely to block drains. Single ply recycled toilet paper is harder to obtain, but ask your local supplier to stock it.

Tissues made from recycled paper are also very hard to find in shops or supermarkets. If you can't find them, then maybe consider a lifestyle change: start using cotton handkerchiefs again. Give your friends and acquaintances cloth hankies as gifts.

Use Reusable Products

Look for hemp or organic cotton products in place of plantation paper products. Proprietors of the hemp shops which are beginning to proliferate around the country are trying to shrug off their hippy, trendy image and show the majority of Australians that their products make good ecological sense. Hemp hankerchiefs and stationery are superior alternatives to tree-derived paper. Greenpeace and Community Aid Abroad are just two of several organisations and companies which is actively selling and promoting organically grown cotton in place of the chemically cultivated version.

Effluent-Free Paper - Way To Go!

Although the pulp and paper industry has a way to go in terms of its potential to pollute, there is a ray of hope in that a pulp mill in Canada has "gone TEF"; ie, has invested in new technology which makes its waste stream Totally Effluent Free. This, combined with the fact that it is already Totally Chlorine Free 9 (TCF), means that other manufacturers must now consider their own environmental priorities very carefully.

If other pulp mills choose to opt for a less 'green' process, such as Elemental Chlorine Free, which substitutes chlorine dioxide for chlorine and thus brings the output of dioxins to below detectable levels, they risk being out of touch with future public demand for environmentally friendlier paper.

Some North American paper manufacturers are apparently working quietly behind the scenes to prepare for TCF manufacture so that the U.S. Environmental Protection Authority doesn't get wind of the change and ultimately impose more stringent regulations.

In the interim (ie, until everybody goes chlorine and effluent free) another category of product is receiving market attention. This is Processed Chlorine-Free (PCF) recycled paper, which combines virgin TCF pulp and previously chlorine-bleached pulp to make a recycled paper.

It just may be that despite or because of the enormous costs of adopting new technology, paper makers may have to go greener than they would really like, sooner than they would really like, in order not to be left behind in the future.

1. See under Forest Activist Groups.

2. 100% recycled' does not necessarily mean recycled from waste that has been discarded by a consumer: the Amcor paper, Renew 100 is made from 70 percent pre--consumer waste, 20 percent cotton linters, 10% pre- or post-consumer milk carton material; their Renew 80 has 80% de-inked fibre (60% of which is pre-consumer waste, 15% cotton linters, 5% pre or post consumer millk carton material), 20 percent bleached virgin eucalypt fibre . Amcor mostly uses post-consumer waste to make fibre boxes.

3. Amcor's entrenchment in the tree culture works against it having much interest in investing in the high quality, multi-recyclable papers that can be manufactured from fast-growing cereal, grain, cane and fibre crops.

4. See the article, Effluent-free Paper - Way to Go!, above.

5. Until there is a system of certification of forests and timber in Australia, verifying ethically managed tree plantations will be a tricky call. There are many potential problems with conventional plantation practices, including: genetic engineering, herbicides, chemical use, native bush clearance and water quality.

6. Taken from Environmentally Friendly Copy Paper - Facts you Need to Know, an infosheet published by the Native Forest Network c/o Friends of the Earth, Melbourne. (See Forest Activist Groups in the Directory).

7. Owned by Amcor, which controls 80% of the local and imported paper sales in the Australian market and makes all of our domestically produced office paper.

8. Chlorine bleaching produces the organochlorine Dioxin. Dioxin does not break down in the environment and accumulates in the body. Effluent from pure (elemental) chlorine bleaching is too corrosive to be recycled. Recycled paper pulp needs far less bleaching than virgin fibre.

9. U.S. book publisher Harcourt Brace uses Swedish-sourced TCF paper exclusively on the two million children's books it produces annually. Another children's book publisher, North-South Books, also uses European-sourced TCF.

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