Environmental: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q. Why Recycle?

A. Preserving the delicate balance of our ecology requires a commitment from all of us. Recycling is an effective way to conserve our resources, minimize waste and protect our environment. Paper that is not recycled takes up landfill space. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one ton of recycled paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

Also, according to the Environmental Paper Network, waste paper accounts for more than one-third of municipal solid waste, and municipal landfills account for 34% of all human-related methane emissions. Therefore, waste paper is one of the most significant sources of landfill methane, a greenhouse gas scientifically proven to cause global warming. Recycling prevents landfilling and can help to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels.

Q. What is recycled paper?

A. Recycled papers may contain either or both pre-consumer and post-consumer material. While there is no official definition of pre-consumer material, it is often defined as waste generated by industrial manufacturing processes which would otherwise have been landfilled. Pre-consumer materials have not met their intended end-use by a consumer and include mill converting scraps, pre-consumer deinking material, and pulp substitutes. Post-consumer material is defined as waste paper, such as office paper and newspaper that has served its intended purpose and has been separated from solid waste to be recycled into new paper. The greater the percentage of post-consumer material in the paper, the less resource intensive it is because it is closer to true "closed-loop" recycling.

Q. When was the recycling symbol developed?*

A. In 1970, Container Corporation of America (CCA®), a large producer of recycled paperboard, now part of Smurfit-Stone Corporation, sponsored a contest to design a symbol to be used to promote the recycled content of the company’s paper products. From more than 500 entrants, Gary Anderson, then a senior at the University of Southern California, won first place. Anderson’s design — three chasing arrows in the shape of a triangle — was based on 19th Century mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius’ discovery that a strip of paper twisted once over and joined at the tips formed a continuous single-edged, one-sided surface.

First developed and used by recycled paperboard manufacturers, the symbol was adopted industry-wide to promote the recycled content of various paper products. Today, the recycling symbol is universally recognized as an identifier of a commodity’s recycled content and recyclability. However, unless both messages can be substantiated, the claim should make it clear whether the reference is to the product's recyclability or its recycled content.

*Source: www.afandpa.org

Q. How much paper is being recovered for recycling in the U.S.?*

A. In 2008 in America 57.4 percent of all paper consumed was recovered for recycling: 340 pounds for every man, woman, and child. U.S. Paper recovery has grown by 78 percent since 1990, when the paper industry established its first recovery goal to advance recycling. The industry has set a new 60 percent recovery goal for 2012. Each percentage point increase means recovery of an additional one million tons of paper — enough to fill more than 14,000 railroad cars.

*Source: www.afandpa.org

Q. Why buy recycled paper?

A. Although the forest products industry continuously plants new trees, it is environmentally sound to use recycled products. Virgin paper uses between 2 and 4.4 tons* of trees to produce 1 ton of pulp. Using recycled fiber takes about 1.4 tons* out of the landfill to produce 1.0 tons of recycled fiber. In addition, less water, fewer chemicals and less energy are required.

*Source: www.edf.org

Q. If more and more papers are made with recycled content, then why do we need virgin pulp?

A. Paper products are essential to everyday life. Virgin tree fiber will always be needed for papermaking because reprocessed fibers eventually weaken and become unusable. In fact, wood fibers can be recycled only four to seven times before they become too short and brittle to be made into new paper.

According to the Environmental Paper Network, some virgin fiber will likely always be necessary to produce paper, whether to replace recovered fibers lost in the deinking process, to maintain performance characteristics, such as strength and brightness in specific paper grades, or because the distance of many mills from urban areas makes using recovered fiber cost prohibitive.

Q. I’ve read in Neenah Paper promotional literature that your recycled papers meet the Executive Order of 30% post consumer content. What does this mean?

A. Executive Order 13423, signed in January 2007, requires copy and writing paper purchased to contain 30% post consumer content when available. As stated in section 2.(d), Federal agencies are required to acquire recycled-content products, including paper of at least 30 percent post-consumer fiber content. For more information about Executive Order 13423, go to: http://www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/practices/eo13423.htm

The previous Executive Order, 13101, was signed by President Clinton in 1998 as a follow-up to Executive Order 12873 to strengthen "buy-recycled" initiatives in the federal government. The order eliminated the loopholes for availability and price, requiring copy and writing paper purchased to contain 30 percent post-consumer content when available, and mandating at least 20 percent post-consumer content in all purchases.

Q. Can I use the recycled paper symbol? What guidelines should I follow?

A. The recycled symbol, also known as the chasing-arrows logo or the mobius loop, is visible on many consumer products, including paper. All recycled papers from Neenah Paper contain a minimum of 30% post consumer recycled fiber. Papers made with 100% post consumer recycled fiber are available in the four popular finishes of the CLASSIC® Brands, ENVIRONMENT® Papers and SUNDANCE® Papers.

American Forest & Paper Association Recycled Symbol Guidelines:
Used alone, the recycling symbol communicates that a paper product or package is both recyclable and made entirely from recycled material. As few products or packages can make both claims, use of the symbol alone is limited. In most cases, the recycling symbol must be accompanied by qualifying statements to clarify percentage of recycled fiber. For more information go to: www.afandpa.org

Federal Trade Commission Recycled Symbol Guidelines:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeks to prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace. The FTC looks at all advertising from the consumer's perspective: what message does the advertising actually convey to consumers? The FTC issued its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, commonly known as the Green Guides, to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that are unfair or deceptive. Section 260.7 (e) of the Green Guides focuses on recycled content claims and advises the following:*

A recycled content claim may be made only for materials that have been recovered or otherwise diverted from the solid waste stream, either during the manufacturing process (pre-consumer), or after consumer use (post-consumer).
When making a recycled content claim, distinctions may be made between pre-consumer and post-consumer content. These claims must be substantiated.
For product that are only partially made of recycled material, claims should be qualified to avoid consumer deception as to the amount of recycled content in the finished product.
Unqualified claims of recycled content may only be made if the entire product is made from recycled material.
* This is a summary only. Please refer to Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims for further information and examples of claim usage.

Q. What is Green Seal Certification?

A. Founded in 1989, Green Seal is a non-profit standard-setting organization that awards the Green Seal of Approval to products that cause less harm to the environment than other similar products as defined by their certification standards. All recycled papers from Neenah Paper are certified to Green Seal standards.

Green Seal operates under the international guidelines for environmental labeling programs, ISO 14020 and 14024, set by the International Organization for Standardization. Green Seal does work internationally through mutual recognition agreements with other national eco-labeling programs.

The intent of Green Seal’s environmental requirements is to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture, use and disposal of products. The Green Seal Printing and Writing Standard (GS-7) requires that the product contain a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content. The standard also establishes requirements for non-chlorine bleaching and limits for toxics in packaging. In order to be authorized to use the mark the manufacturer must undergo an initial evaluation to determine that the product complies with Green Seal’s requirements as well as undergo ongoing factory inspections.


Q. What is sustainable forestry?

A. Sustainable forestry provides a way of using forest products to meet people’s ever increasing needs without degrading forest ecosystems. These practices ensure that forestlands retain their economic value for the long term.

Q. Who is the Rainforest Alliance? Who is the Forest Stewardship Council™?

A. The Rainforest Alliance was established in 1987 with a mission to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. (www.rainforest-alliance.org)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) was founded by a diverse group of industry and environmental stakeholders, including the Rainforest Alliance, to develop a consistent, comprehensive and reliable set of third-party certification standards, and to ensure that they are universally recognized. The Rainforest Alliance is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council, which they helped to establish in 1993. (www.fsc.org)

SmartWood is the certification arm of the Rainforest Alliance and is accredited by the FSC. SmartWood has 12 regional offices and works with land owners and managers in over 50 countries to ensure that the wood and pulp they harvest comes from sustainably managed forests where wildlife and wildlands are protected and workers and neighboring communities are treated with respect. FSC certification is carried out by the SmartWood’s global network of regional offices and partners, as well as other certifiers.

Q. What is the mission of the Forest Stewardship Council™?

A. The mission of the Forest Stewardship Council is to promote and enhance well-managed forests through credible certification that is environmentally responsible, socially acceptable, and economically viable.

A study, titled The Global Impact of SmartWood Certification, published in June 2005 by Deanna Newsom and Daphne Hewitt of the Rainforest Alliance, finds that rapid growth of FSC® and Rainforest Alliance certification has benefited both the environment and people. The study revealed that forest certification is a catalyst for change. A summary of the main findings include:

• SmartWood certification does change they way certified forestry operations address environmental, social, economic, forest management and systems issues.

• Certification addresses social issues: worker safety, training, and communication and conflict resolution with stakeholders.

• Certification addresses environmental issues: aquatic and riparian areas, sensitive sites and high conservation forests, and threatened and endangered species.

• Certification addresses systems issues: management plans, monitoring, chain of custody and inventory.

Q. What are the Forest Stewardship Council’s ten principles for forest management?

Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria.

Long-term tenure and use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented and legally established.

The legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be recognized and respected.

Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well being of forest workers and local communities.

Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest’s multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits.

Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.

A management plan -- appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations -- shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long-term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated.

Monitoring shall be conducted -- appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management -- to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts.

Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach.

Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with Principles and Criteria 1 - 9, and Principle 10 and its Criteria. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world’s needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests.

Q. What is Chain of Custody Certification as it pertains to the Forest Stewardship Council?

A. Chain of Custody (COC) certification is a way of tracking paper throughout its life cycle, from the forest to the point of sale. COC Certification is available for any operation that processed cut wood, such as sawmills, secondary manufacturers, broker/distributors, wholesalers, retailers, printers, paper merchants and other points in the supply chain.

As stated on the FSC Website, any FSC-labeled product can be traced back to a certified source. This aspect of the system is the basis for any credible certification system and is the link between consumer preference and responsible, on-the-ground forest management.

Companies managing the forests mush show they are harvesting fiber and managing their resources so as to preserve the environment, protect biodiversity, and ensure the responsible treatment of employees and indigenous peoples.

For paper distributors and merchants, FSC COC Certification requires a comprehensive documentation control system to track FSC Certified paper from the time it is received until the time it is shipped, with the ability to show that it has been segregated from non-FSC papers.


Q. What is Green-e Certification?

A. Green-e is the nation's leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions in the retail market. It has three certification programs: Green-e Climate is a voluntary certification program launched in 2007 that sets consumer-protection and environmental-integrity standards for greenhouse gas(GHG) emission reductions sold in the voluntary market. Green-e Energy is the nation's leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy. Green-e Marketplace is a program that allows companies to display the logo when they have purchased a qualifying amount of renewable energy and passed our verification standards.

Q. Why is Renewable Energy better?

A. Every time you switch on your lights, or use any electrical device, natural resources are consumed to generate the electricity that you use. A staggering 98 percent of electricity in the United States comes from non-renewable resources such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.

Using non-renewable resources to create electricity produces more harmful emissions linked to global warming than any other human activity. The remaining two percent of U.S. electricity generated from clean, renewable resources—such as wind, solar, geothermal, small hydro-electric and biomass—produce dramatically less air pollution and have significantly smaller environmental impacts.

Q. What is a Renewable Energy Credit (REC)? 

A. A REC represents the environmental attribute or benefit of renewable electricity generation (usually one credit = one kilowatt-hour), not the actual energy. RECs are typically purchased from someone other than your electricity provider. What you pay for is the benefit of adding renewable energy generation to the national grid. Thus a REC purchase does not directly offset traditional energy production in your local region, nor does it result in local environment benefits.


Q. What are greenhouse gases?

A. Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are often called greenhouse gases. Some greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) occur naturally and are emitted to the atmosphere through natural processes as well as through human activities. Other greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere through human activities include methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases. Making paper from used paper generally results in lower releases of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, paper recycling recovers used papers from the waste stream, directly preventing releases of methane from their decomposition in landfills.

Q. What is carbon dioxide?

A. Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless, non-poisonous gas that is a normal part of Earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a product of fossil-fuel combustion as well as other processes. It is considered a greenhouse gas as it traps heat (infrared energy) radiated by the Earth into the atmosphere and thereby contributes to the potential for global warming. Producing paper using renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower, and various forms of biomass, helps to lessen global warming emissions and results in fewer environmental impacts.

Q. What does it mean to be carbon neutral?

A. There is no single accepted definition of carbon neutrality. Generally, carbon neutrality or a “zero net emissions position” (not to be confused with no emissions) is recognized as carbon emissions less emission reductions less offsets. Emissions can be reduced by using energy more efficiently or replacing fossil fuels with renewable, emission-free resources. Individuals and companies can balance their remaining emissions with offsets. A single carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. Types of offset project include renewable energy, methane combustion and containment, forestry and many others.

Neenah Paper is committed to reducing our carbon footprint through investments in energy conservation and renewable energy resources. We are a member of The Climate Registry. CLASSIC®, STARWHITE® and ENVIRONMENT® Papers from Neenah Paper are Made Carbon Neutral. Our greenhouse gas emission calculations are verified by an independent third-party to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol accounting and reporting standards.

Q. What is Carbon Neutral Plus?

A. Carbon Neutral Plus is Neenah Paper’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions plus conserve Earth’s natural resources and wildlife habitat.

Neenah Paper is committed to reducing our carbon footprint through investments in energy conservation and renewable energy resources. As part of an industry that relies on natural resources, we are committed to reducing our environmental footprint plus contributing to projects which remove carbon from the atmosphere and conserve habitat for plants and animals. These projects include:
The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin's AmeriCorps program - Wisconservation Corps: Neenah Paper's contributions are helping to train young conservation professionals responsible for managing State Natural Areas, home to endangered and threatened plants and animals.
Our contributions to the Wisconservation Corps are also helping to conserve the Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area, one of the largest prairie complexes in the state and home to a diversity of plants and animals.
Partnership with the Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin and Friends of the Osa: Neenah Paper's contributions are helping to reforest land in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica to sequester carbon, protect and restore biodiversity, and create new habitat for endangered wildlife as well as wintering habitat for Wisconsin's migratory birds.

Q. What is a “carbon market” or a “cap-and-trade” system?

A. A carbon or cap-and-trade market is defined as a system where a central authority sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. Companies that exceed the cap must buy carbon offsets or credits from those companies who pollute less.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth. Cap and trade programs include several key elements, including an emissions cap (a fixed quantity of emissions allowed for each compliance period), coverage (sources and industry sectors included) as well as monitoring, reporting and verification to ensure integrity and transparency.

Q. Who is The Climate Registry?

A. The Climate Registry is a nonprofit collaboration among North American states, provinces, territories and Native Sovereign Nations that sets consistent and transparent standards to calculate, verify and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions into a single registry.


Q. What is Chlorine?

A. Chlorine is an element found in the natural world. It is found in nature as inorganic salts (common table salt is sodium chloride) and in more than 1,500 organic compounds, including plants, animals, and even human blood and saliva!

Chlorine is used in many manufacturing processes and as part of finished products. It is used in manufacturing many types of plastics and packaging and is even a key ingredient in medicines and pharmaceuticals. For many years virgin fiber was bleached with hypochlorite, a compound that reacts with organic materials and can produce compounds known as dioxins. Elemental chlorine bleaching was phased out in the United States in 2001 as a result of the EPA Cluster Rules.

Q. What is Elemental Chlorine Free?

A. For many years virgin fiber was bleached with hypochlorite, a compound that reacts with organic materials and may produce dioxins or its pre-cursors in the reaction. Most virgin pulp mills have stopped using this chemistry and are substituting chlorine dioxide in the bleaching stages. This virtually eliminates dioxin and its associated compounds from the waste water. This process is called elemental chlorine free (ECF). Some mills are totally chlorine free (TCF) meaning they bleach with oxygen, ozone or peroxide.

Q. What is Processed Chlorine Free?

A. Processed chlorine free (PCF) means the paper is manufactured without the use of chlorine or chlorine compounds, such as chlorine dioxide. The term Processed Chlorine Free is applied only to post consumer recycled fiber a process originally used to bleach the virgin pulp cannot be known.

Q. What are Chlorine Dioxins?

A. Chlorine Dioxins are a family of compounds containing chlorine atoms. Dioxins are created in small amounts when chlorine is present during naturally occurring combustion (forest fires, volcanoes) or combustion resulting from human action (motor vehicles, metals production, electricity generation, wood-burning fireplaces, etc.). Under certain conditions, dioxins can be formed when chlorine is used in industrial processes, but dioxin emissions from those processes have declined dramatically in recent years.

The EPA offers assurance that while dioxin has been shown to be toxic to certain lab animals, evidence is lacking that it has serious long-term effects on humans. However, the EPA does characterize dioxins as likely human carcinogens and anticipates they may increase the risk of cancer certain exposure levels.

Q. Are U.S. mills required to manufacture elemental chlorine free?

A. Yes. U.S. mills were required to replace elemental chlorine with more complex chlorine compounds, such as chlorine dioxide, by the US EPA Cluster Rule of April 2001.

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