April 21, 2011
- TORONTO - Each office worker in North America consumes an average 10,000 sheets of paper annually, yet there are simple and unexpected ways to reduce this number while benefiting the environment and bottom line. These findings are cited in a Green Paper Report
released on the eve of Earth Day 2011 by CivicAction's Greening Greater Toronto.
Through research and consultation with industry and private and public sector purchasing experts, the report: dispels the common notion that certified and recycled paper are necessarily more expensive then virgin paper; sheds light on ways organizations can reduce paper use while saving money; and highlights how organizations can ensure waste paper-a valuable and demanded resource-does not enter landfills.
Here are six key opportunities to change paper purchasing and use:
- Use Less Paper: The most effective way to reduce the environmental impact of paper purchasing is to simply use less paper. Replacing single-use printers with multi-function devices and moving to digital processes and default double-sided printing are key ways to reduce paper use and costs.
- Purchase Certified Paper: Using paper that has been certified under a particular brand or standard guarantees that it contains raw fibre harvested using environmentally sustainable forestry practices. For large orders, there is no significant price premium, and it offers significant value with customers.
- Understand Recycled Content and Purchase Judiciously: Buying recycled paper is good for the environment, and the price of paper that has up to 30 per cent recycled content does not significantly exceed virgin paper prices. However, not all recycled paper products are equal when it comes to environmental impact. Give priority to recycled products made through more efficient and less energy- and chemical-intensive recycling processes.
- Recycle and Recycle Carefully: There is a huge opportunity for organizations to increase their paper recycling rates. The report cites that less than half of paper and cardboard products disposed of by North America's institutional, commercial and industrial sector are recycled - compared to over sixty per cent in the UK- and most ends up in landfills. By recycling paper, fibre is reused to make products or can be incinerated to produce energy rather than entering landfills. Increased recycling, carefully separating fine copy paper from other paper products, employee engagement programs, and closed-loop recycling can significantly reduce an organization's environmental footprint.
- Apply Criteria Comprehensively: To maximize impact, organizations should aim to apply their paper policies across all departments and locations. Look at the full scope of paper products-from copy paper, to envelopes and cardboard boxes-to get the most out of greening efforts.
- Look Beyond the Paper to the Producer: Paper is only as green as the company that produces and transports it. Manufacturing processes and distribution practices can make a big difference to the overall environmental impact of a paper product. Factors to consider include: the distance the paper has travelled from its original source, the emission levels of transportation fleets to deliver the paper, the efficiency of paper mills, and environmental practices of all the companies involved in bringing the paper to its final destination.
"This is a huge opportunity for action, and can really boost an organization's sustainability," said Linda Weichel, Managing Director, Greening Greater Toronto. "The Green Paper Report shows how people and organizations can reduce their environmental impact and costs by changing how they purchase, use and dispose of their paper products."
The Green Paper Report was developed in collaboration with members of the Green Paper Action Group, formed by Greening Greater Toronto's Green Procurement Leadership Council.
Greening Greater Toronto's Green Procurement Initiative has been supported by the Conservation Fund of the Ontario Power Authority, which provides support for new and innovative electricity conservation initiatives that build the ability of Ontario's residents, businesses, and institutions to reduce their demand for electricity.
About Greening Greater Toronto
Greening Greater Toronto (www.greeninggreatertoronto.ca) is an initiative of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance (www.civicaction.ca), a multi-sectoral coalition of thousands of civic leaders committed to acting collectively to tackle tough issues and big opportunities facing the Toronto region. More than 200 partners from corporations, government, and the non-profit sector have joined the Greening Greater Toronto initiative and support the vision of a flourishing region renowned for its environmental action and innovation.
Communications and Events Officer, CivicAction
(416) 992-4966 (cell)
(416) 309-4480 x509 (work)