Recycled Content Paper Products
The acceptable range for cut sheet paper, envelopes and forms that contain recycled content is 10%-100% post-consumer recycled content and 20%-100% total recycled content (pre-consumer plus post-consumer).
The vast majority of office paper products sold in the United States still contain zero recycled content. Even a small amount of recycled content is environmentally preferable because it helps to reduce waste, decrease pressure on forests and lessen energy, greenhouse gases and water and air emissions. If a virgin paper product simply has recycled or recyclable packaging, it is not selected for the buygreen site.
FSC-Certified Paper Products
FSC certification is similar (although not the same as) "organic" labeling for food. Just like "organic food" comes from farms that practice more sustainable agriculture, the fiber in FSC-certified paper is assured to come from more "responsibly harvested forests." These forests are managed following rigorous standards that help ensure long-term renewable harvests, sustainable re-growth and biodiversity protection.
The majority of Office Depot papers are certified to either SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), CSA (Canadian Standards Association), or PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification) standards. All of these standards are positive in that they provide strong guidance for good practices in responsible forest management. The main difference between FSC and the other schemes is that FSC is internationally-recognized whereas SFI and CSA certification is regional and PEFC is an umbrella scheme that recognizes different regional standards. FSC is also the certification regarded as the "gold standard" of forest management by more than 80 environmental groups like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy.
Reduced Chlorine Bleached Cut-Sheet Paper
There are three main cleaner bleaching processes for paper: ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free), PCF (Processed Chlorine Free) and TCF (Total Chlorine Free). ECF is now the standard cleaner bleaching process across North American pulp mills. Most Office Depot papers are bleached using the ECF process which eliminates dioxins from water effluents, meets the Environmental Protection Agency's rules and creates the strongest fibers.
Since ECF bleaching is now the "standard" process in the US, only paper products bleached using an even cleaner process such as PCF or TCF will be included on the buygreen site. However, ECF bleached paper products are included if they contain recycled content.
Greenseal Certified Papers
Greenseal is an organization that sets standards for environmentally preferable products and conducts supplier audits to validate environmental claims.