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Environmental Credentials of Paper

Living in a Circular Economy means we consider each product we use in terms of its sustainability. So, when it comes to printing, we need to look at the sustainability of the paper we print on. The best way to do this is to learn about the environmental credentials of paper.

Environmental credentials relate to the source of raw materials, manufacturing processes, sustainability and / or potential impact of a product relative to the environment. Environmental Certifications and / or Credentials fall into one of the following three levels:

  • Forest Level Certifications
  • Mill Level Certifications & Credentials
  • Paper Level Certifications & Credentials

Forest Level Certifications

Forest Level Certifications pertain to the raw material used in paper i.e pulp. They use a Chain of Custody tracking system which requires all parties who take physical possession of the paper stock and/or alter it physically, to be certified. We can then track the raw material from the source to the end product and vice versa. This ensures the purity of the paper. That the material originated from a legal, well-managed source i.e. either a forest or a recycling plant, operating in accordance with the rules of  the certification scheme.

Flowchart showing Chain of Custody Environmental Credential of Paper

Chain of Custody for Paper

There are two auditing bodies which issue Chain of Custody Certifications:

  • The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which issues two Forest Level (Chain of Custody) Certifications:
      • FSC Mix: Certified Products contain a mixture of (at least 70%) virgin fibre from an FSC certified forest, reclaimed or recycled fibre, virgin fibre from other controlled sources.
      • FSC Recycled: Certified Products contain 100% verified recycled material.

FSC Environmental Credential of Paper      PEFC Environmental Credential of Paper

It is important to note that the FSC / PEFC icons are ‘Chain of Custody’ certifications and pertain to the entire production chain. This means you CANNOT use these icons unless your printer is also FSC / PEFC certified.

Mill Level Certifications & Credentials

Mill Level Certifications & Credentials pertain to the paper manufacturers themselves. They are either a third party, independently audited certification or a mill specific Environmental Management System. In relation to BJ Ball products, the Mill Level Certifications & Credentials are;

  • ISO14001: Certification issued by The International Organisation for Standardisation
  • EMAS: Certification issued under The European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme
  • EMS: Environmental System

ISO14001 Environmental Credential of Paper          EMAS Environmental Credential of Paper       EMS Environmental Credential of Paper

Paper Level Certifications

Individual paper stocks receive Paper Level Certifications as a statement of environmental responsibility. A number of recognised environmental organisations issue these certifications.. In relation to BJ Ball products, these Paper Level Certifications are;

  • Blue Angel: Initiated by the German government and awarded by an independent jury to products/services which are particularly beneficial for the environment in an all-round consideration.
  • Nordic Swan Ecolabel: An ECO-certification for products produced within Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland).
  • EU Eco-Label: An ECO-certification issued by the European Commission for products produced within the EU.
  • Green Seal: An ECO-certification for products produced within the USA.
  • Green-E: Certifies the product has been produced using clean energy.

Blue Angel Environmental Credential of Paper   Nordic Swan Environmental Credential of Paper    EU Environmental Credential of Paper      Green Seal Environmental Credential of Paper

Paper Level Certifications are simply a way of communicating that a paper product has a unique environmental attribute. These certifications are issued direct from the mill. In relation to BJ Ball products, these Paper Level Certifications are;

  • Carbon Neutral: The carbon emissions generated during the production of the stock must be offset by carbon credits.
  • Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF): The pulp used to make the paper has been whitened without the use of chlorine gas.
  • Process Chlorine Free (PCF): The paper is made from recycled fibres, that were not re-whitened using any chlorine based bleach.
  • Recycled Paper: The product has been made using waste paper (see side note).
  • Wind Generated Power: The paper is made using electricity derived from wind farming.

Carbon Neutral    Elemental Chlorine Free     Process Chlorine Free      Recycled Content      Wind Generated Power

Making use of the Environmental Certifications & Credentials Icons

As more clients work towards having sustainability at the core of their business it becomes more important for them to show this to their customers. One way of demonstrating that they have made a conscious decision to go ‘green’ is to use the Environmental Certifications & Credentials icons, relative to the paper stock used, in your design work. For icon artwork files from BJ Ball, click here.



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