How Do Recycled Materials Factor Into Your Buying Process?


How do recycled materials factor into your buying process?  We all have needs for things like napkins, paper bags, paper towels & other paper products, but does using recycled materials, environmental issues or “going green” factor in your decision?  We’ll take a look at that as well as (ECF), organic compounds & the use of Chlorine bleaching in paper products.

When consumers see brown they think green, say companies that sell products like paper towels, napkins and diapers.

Brown paper products are becoming an obvious way for consumers to show that they care about the environment. They assume the products are made with recycled materials or didn’t involve whitening chemicals.

Now, however, white paper can be made from 100% recycled fibers and whitened without the chemical chlorine, traditionally the primary complaint against it

Wood pulp, in its natural state is brown or beige. Papers made from such pulp – for example brown paper bags, and most cardboard boxes – are also brown. For years, most paper was subjected to a bleaching process to make it white, using elemental chlorine (Cl), usually in the form of chlorine gas, with horrible environmental consequences.

Much of the North American pulp and paper industry no longer uses elemental chlorine (Cl), but there remain a number of paper mills in North America which continue to do so, despite the documented environmental damage that this process engenders. Today, the most common form of bleaching paper is no longer with the use of elemental chlorine (Cl), but instead with the use of chlorine derivatives, principally chlorine dioxide (ClO2). Paper bleached with chlorine dioxide is often referred to as “elementally chlorine-free” (ECF). Though bleaching with chlorine dioxide (ClO2) is far preferable to bleaching with elemental chlorine, it is still environmentally harmful, because chlorine derivatives still produce toxic chlorinated organic compounds, such as chloroform, a known carcinogen.

Totally chlorine-free (TCF) paper is paper which is either unbleached, or bleached using no chlorine or chlorine derivatives. Bleached papers which are totally chlorine-free (TCF) have been bleached with oxygen, ozone and/or hydrogen peroxide. These bleaching methods have none of the environmental impacts of chlorine chemistry.

Brown napkins, paper towels, coffee filters and even diapers are increasing in popularity as companies play up an image that brown means less chemicals.

Nonwhite, recycled papers come in a range of hues, from dark brown to beige to off-white speckled with bits of brown.

Businesses use brown napkins to signal environmental efforts.

Sales of recycled (not necessarily brown) household paper products are rising faster than the overall market.  Since 2007, average annual sales of recycled toilet paper have risen about 8%, and diapers sales have almost doubled in that time.

“Dark greens,” or businesses and people that prioritize environmental concerns, will be the early adopters, predicts Brian Carlson, director of consumer products for the company. “Light greens,” will be harder to nudge away from white, he says. “Those are the soccer moms that like to be green, but they don’t want to compromise. They don’t want to pay more. They want the same quality.”

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