Closing the Loop - Buy Recycled

Recycling is a good start, but the whole system falters if no one buys products made from recycled materials. Look for labels that indicate post-consumer content. Post-consumer means that the materials originally came from residential recycling programs. If the label doesn't specify, then the recycled materials likely are pre-consumer, which means that they are discards from the mill that are normally recycled anyway.

 Many boxboard containers (like cereal and kleenex boxes) are made with recycled content. A U.S.-based initiative, the 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance, promotes the use of 100% recycled content in boxboard packages. Look for their symbol (to the right) to choose packages with the highest recycled content.  Paperboard logo

There are some products available in provincial grocery stores that do contain post-consumer recycled content. Facial tissue, lunch bags, toilet paper, paper towels, and paper cups may have recycled content—check the labels. Office supply stores carry some products as well, although many don't contain 100% post-consumer content. We've been able to find photocopy paper, envelopes and mailing boxes with some post-consumer content.

Companies can specify purchasing requirements to include recycled content, as can governments. This type of initiative really makes a difference to establishing demand and to truly closing the loop on recycling.

If you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, then you’re not actually recycling. We all know this, but it’s often difficult to find recycled content. Here are some things to look for:

 1. Recycled content symbol — the black background means that the product is made from recycled materials. If there’s a number inside, it denotes the percentage of recycled content recycle symbol 

2. Post-consumer content — not all recycling claims are created equal. Post-consumer means that the paper came from a recycling program. If it just says ’recycled’ the mill could be counting its own scraps that get tossed back into the mix (a good thing to do, but not helping consumers close the loop). In addition to the recycling symbol, many products include a statement on the percentage of post-consumer content.

Office supply stores are starting to carry more recycled paper. lists a photocopy paper made from 100% post-consumer recycled content  [The 100% post-consumer paper costs more, so buy it and treat it like the precious resource it is by working on ways to reduce paper use.]

3. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) — the FSC has standards for forest management and certifies companies that manage forest resources in a sustainable manner. The FSC is a rigorous program that looks at ‘chain of custody’ on a product and ensures that all the companies involved in the production of a product are operating sustainably — from the forestry company, to the paper mill, to the paper distributor. If you must buy paper that isn’t recycled, look for the FSC logo. It ensures that the paper was produced using the best management practices possible .  FSC logo 
(Source: Feb. 2008 WasteWatch)