Recycled Fiber

Sappi North America is pleased to provide graphics products with 10% recycled content, consistent with the definition of recovered fiber used by the EPA and third-party verified to be in conformance with the definitions and standards of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) program and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC/29-31-10).

Recycling paper is a great way to reduce our environmental footprint – but how we put that fiber to use is not a simple one-size-fits-all solution. For decades, recycled content was the “go-to” attribute for making environmentally preferable materials — in both paper and other industries. It seems intuitive that if recycling is good for the environment, then using recycled fiber must also be good. And if a little bit of something is good, then more must be better. However, as the science of sustainability has matured, we have come to view issues more holistically — to approach complex concepts with systems thinking.

We’ve learned that what’s in your paper is only part of the picture. Responsible sourcing of materials is critical, but we must also consider the environmental impacts of manufacturing — including those associated with processing recovered paper.

We need to be responsible and follow the science and put recovered fiber to its best use. In fact, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued environmental marketing guidance, stating that “Claiming ‘Green, made with recycled content’ may be deceptive if the environmental costs of using recycled content outweigh the environmental benefits of using it.” As an example, our own cradle to gate analysis has shown that adding 10% post-consumer recycled fiber to products made at our Somerset Mill increases the carbon footprint by 16%.

The EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline program’s definition of recovered fiber includes both post-consumer fiber and post-industrial fiber including manufacturing scrap from paper converting operations. In 2018, Sappi adopted a definition of recycled fiber that is consistent with the EPA’s definition of recovered fiber, which includes converting scrap generated after the paper-making process. Sappi’s processes and recycled fiber sources have been verified by a third-party auditing firm (Bureau Veritas) as being in compliance with the SFI® and PEFC requirements. Our McCoy, Opus and Flo Sheets grades all have a standard offering of 10% recycled fiber content. Web grades (including Opus, Somerset and Flo) and Spectro are also available with 10% recycled fiber upon request.

Both the SFI and Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC-C014955) certification standards include post-industrial fiber as part of their claim and labeling schemes, however, because some sources of recycled fiber are generated on-site (e.g., trim from sheeters) these materials do not meet the FSC® definition of pre-consumer fiber. For this reason we do not use the FSC label with the embedded chasing arrows on FSC-certified products from Sappi. Sappi customers with specific questions regarding on-product labelling should consult with their certification auditors.