Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to our most frequently asked questions about paper and recycling, and commonly used paper acronyms.

Where Can I Buy Recycled Chlorine Free Tissues?

Greenpeace is running a tissue campaign at www.Kleercut.net aimed at Kimberly Clark’s “wiping out ancient forests.” You can find the fairly complete Greenpeace Tissue Shoppers Guide, with brand names of ancient forest friendly, chlorine free products and Canadian stores where they are available, at www.greenpeace.ca

The Greenpeace guide is designed to be printed to take with you when you shop and lists sources for toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels and napkins.

 

Where Can I Buy Recycled Chlorine Free Papers?

For the United States (primarily) the Environmental Paper Network maintains an impressive database of environmentally friendly papers, from tissues to printing papers. www.environmentalpaper.org/preferable-papers.html

In Canada, Markets Initiative has a sortable database of ancient forest friendly papers and printers who maintain those stocks as well as many other very useful markets campaign tools.

How Many Trees And How Much Pollution Do I Save When I Use Recycled Paper?

How many trees can you save by using recycled paper? The answer, as with so many things in life, is “It depends.” Depends on the kind of paper, the manufacturing process, and the amount of recycled content. You can find more information on the highly recommended conservatree web site: www.conservatree.org

As for pollution, it also depends on a lot of variables in the manufacturing process, but you can get some rough estimates at these sites:

  • The Paper Wizard is designed for magazine publishers to help them learn about the environmental impacts of their paper, but can be useful for brochures and books as well. The Paper Wizard is from the Paper Project, a joint initiative of Co-op America, Conservatree, and the Independent Press Assn.
  • The Paper Calculator, developed by the office of the US Federal Environmental Executive, allows you to calculate the relative tree and emissions savings of various kinds of paper.

 

I Already Buy Recycled; Isn't That Enough?

Recycling is very important and buying recycled products is good.

However, the chlorine-based chemicals that are used to bleach pulp cause serious pollution. Unbleached paper is fine for most uses. Where bleaching is necessary, buy products bleached with oxygen based bleaches.

Most products will continue to need some small amount of virgin fibre (new pulp made from trees, flax, hemp, straw, etc.) to reinforce recycled pulp or impart high strength to items like packaging boxes. By demanding products with unbleached or oxygen-bleached virgin pulp, you help make sure the industry switches to more environmentally friendly practices.

Is this paper really chlorine-free?

It might be, but then again, it might not!

There is a lot of misleading advertising out there today. To you and me, “chlorine free” means no chlorine, period. But to some paper company advertisers, it only means “no elemental chlorine.” In other words, no pure chlorine gas has been used, but other forms of chlorine, for example chlorine dioxide, have been used instead.

This is not good enough. Misleading tactics like this confuse consumers who are trying to make the right choice for their families and the environment.

Look for products that are Totally Chlorine Free or Process (Secondarily) Chlorine Free. If you can’t find them, contact your store manager or the manufacturer and tell them you won’t buy their product until all chlorinated bleached have been eliminated. The Chlorine Free Products Association has information on companies who have been certified Chlorine Free.

 

Explain This Alphabet Soup Of TCF, PCF And ECF

TCF, or Totally Chlorine Free, signifies virgin pulp (not recycled) that has been bleached with no chlorine compounds. The common TCF bleaches are all oxygen-based chemicals: oxygen, ozone, and hydrogen peroxide.

PCF, or Process Chlorine Free, indicates that a product is made with recycled fibres and that no chlorine compounds have been used in the recycling process. The original paper may or may not have been bleached with chlorine. This is almost impossible to determine until all virgin pulp and paper is made by TCF processes. PCF products combine the benefits of recycling and oxygen-based bleaching.

ECF, or Elemental Chlorine Free, is a pulp industry term created to describe pulp bleached without “elemental” chlorine gas, but this process still uses chlorine compounds. ECF usually refers to chlorine dioxide. The term is misleading because some elemental chlorine is found in chlorine dioxide mills. While toxic by-products are reduced by ECF, they are not eliminated.