The circle of arrows in the recycling logo represents a loop, or continuous cycle. The recycling process includes collecting items for recycling, reusing products and purchasing new products made from recycled content. By using recycled content products, you are "closing the loop," or completing the circle. This is especially important for the paper industry, since 36% of the average landfill is comprised of paper.
Reusing and recycling materials are only part of the effort needed to reduce the strain on environmental resources. Consumers must also purchase goods created from recycled materials in order to complete the circle. Although paper is the most common recycled product, plastics are recycled into many items, including fleece and decking materials.
In 1998, a consortium of copier manufacturers and printers conducted a test to see how well recycled paper performed in printers, copiers, and other office equipment. Papers with 30 percent post-consumer recycled content were tested. Not only does recycled content paper often meet or exceed the quality standards of virgin paper, it works without complications in office equipment.
Recycled paper is available in a wide range of colors, weights, and styles, including the brightest whites. However, you may wish to avoid bright white paper when possible. The bleaching of paper, whether virgin or recycled, is the leading cause of toxic water pollution in the United States. Chlorine, used in the bleaching process, is a byproduct of an extremely toxic family of chemicals known as dioxins. Chlorine-free recycled paper is another option. Chlorine-free paper's quality is exceptional; it simply has not been subjected to the bleaching process.
When purchasing paper, look for packaging that displays the chasing arrows within a circle. Many products are available with this symbol, including copy paper and toilet paper. This indicates that the paper contains recycled content. The symbol is often confused with the chasing arrows symbol, which simply indicates that a product may be recycled.
= Made from recycled content
Look for the highest percentage
of post-consumer content in the paper. Post-consumer indicates the amount
of waste paper collected from consumers and reprocessed. Higher percentages
are better. By buying paper with more post-consumer content, you are sending
a message to the manufacturer that will encourage the reclamation and use
of more recycled materials. Pre-consumer waste that may be used in recycled
paper includes: paper trimmings from the paper mill and printer, and printed
materials that never reach the consumer.
Be careful! The words
"environmentally friendly," "safe for the environment,"
and "natural," do not indicate that the product is recycled or made
from recycled materials.
Find information on where
to buy recycled products. Stores, vendors, websites and catalogs are all found
in the Buy Recycled Guide of San Mateo County