Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Certificate Paper Journey to Green

When deciding on a paper for your certificates what matters? Is it the brightness of the paper? Print ability? Recycled content? Weight? Price?

As a company we are implementing a sustainable initiative. And part of that initiative is to analyze frame components and if we feel we can make changes that are more environmentally family we do so. Our house certificate paper is Cougar by Weyerhaeuser. We have been using it for years and offer it in a bright white and a cream natural with various pre-printed designs and sizes. Is it the best sustainable choice?

While we continue to weigh our options, I can tell you about why Cougar has been working for us. The white is a 98 brightness. Corporate colors print beautifully. The natural cream is a nice cream, not too yellow and compliments our frame colors. It foil stamps and die cuts well. It is a very economical paper and available on the floor from our paper distributor. There is 10% recycled content and it is a Sustainable Forestry (SFI) certified paper. The quality is high enough for proper reproduction of corporate graphic standards and the digital is laser guaranteed.

Problems arise when choosing high recycled content to produce a certificate that the customer prints on, self-personalizing on office printers. 100% recycled can trash a printer and achieving brightness on non-virgin paper takes more bleaching chemicals. Many recycled papers are made from papers imported from countries that do not have our strict environmental regulations. I'm feeling better about that fact that 90% of Weyerhaeuser's paper is produced in the US and is produced chlorine free.

While I feel Cougar is a good choice, could we make a choice that is better for the environment, while holding down costs and providing great quality? We will keep looking. I would love to increase the recycled content while holding the paper brightness. I would like to know that the recycled content is not coming from industry by-products that are even more harmful to the environment. And I will look for the ECF or Elemental Chlorine Free logo.

Awareness is half the battle. If all manufacturing could be more aware, then we could make some serious progress toward sustainable, closed loop production.

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