Paper products: buying to reduce environmental impacts
Paper products are essential to our lifestyle and daily work. Although trees are a renewable resource and act as a carbon sink, the full life cycle of paper production and use can still create significant negative environmental impacts. This includes air and water pollution, soil erosion, loss of forest habitat and waste to landfill.
Paper consumers who wish to help reduce these impacts can use paper resources more efficiently, reuse and recycle where possible, and buy brands of paper that have fewer environmental impacts in production.
Buying post-consumer recycled content paper products helps to reduce impacts in the tree-to-pulp phase of paper production, and the methane-generation potential of land-filled paper (methane is 21 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas). These two areas make for a net contribution to climate change from the paper industry globally despite the carbon sink potential of growing trees.
The Ministry for the Environment has worked with paper suppliers, paper trade bodies and government procurement specialists to provide buyers with an easy-to-use guide to sustainable paper products. The guide includes office copier, commercial printing and hygiene categories of paper currently available in New Zealand. These products are rated using a five-star rating scheme which covers various aspects of the paper life cycle including fibre source and manufacture.
The information is submitted by suppliers and has been assessed by the Ministry for the Environment as meeting the star rating within the verification methodology.
Paper brands that are not listed in the database have either not been submitted by their suppliers or have not met evidence requirements and should be treated with caution. Public service departments using non-listed products will need to request information from suppliers to ensure they met the mandatory requirements for paper procurement.
Paper suppliers are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to add paper product information to the guide.