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[GreenYes] Recycled Paper Markets
Conservatree and the Alliance for Environmental Innovation did a study of
recycled paper capacity over the past several months. We found enormous
unused capacity for making high grade postconsumer recycled fiber, but such
little demand for finished recycled printing and writing paper that some
recycling mills are shutting down and others are cutting back drastically on
some long-popular papers. It's clear that purchasers need to significantly
drive up the market share for recycled papers now or we risk losing the
infrastructure. Our article, first printed in Resource Recycling magazine,
is at

If the market for recycled paper remains so small (well over 90% of printing
and office papers sold in the U.S. and Canada are still 100% virgin
content), I think we can't expect to see a lot of higher postconsumer
content papers or a much wider range of other types of environmental papers,
which still need significant R&D and investments. If the market for papers
with the environmental attributes available now is proven to be so minimal,
why would manufacturers make those investments?

However, I can't believe that interest in recycled papers truly is so
dismal. I suspect that most people aren't aware that most of their printing
and office paper has no recycled content at all and that they have to
specifically choose recycled paper to get it. Those already using recycled
paper should be sure to put that ID on all their printed materials, so that
others become aware of it again. Some major purchasers have been worried
that there is not enough capacity to meet their needs but our study has
shown that concern to be unfounded.

I know that cost is also a big concern, but there are categories of papers
that are very cost-effective. Recycled content letterhead and business card
papers (Text and Cover, and Writing grades) are competitively priced. Mills
that price their coated papers the same whether they're recycled or virgin
are listed at
The cost differentials for other papers are generally very close,
particularly if bought in large quantities or over a long term.

Please spread the word about the importance of switching to recycled papers
now. We keep our website listings updated about all the environmental papers
available. Also, please let us know what problems purchasers are running
into when they want to switch. Conservatree is analyzing the market
development issues in our Listening Study
( and
searching for solutions through a number of other avenues, as well.

Thanks, all, for your dedication to environmental solutions.
Susan Kinsella
Executive Director
100 Second Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118

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