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Environmentally Preferred Paper

Should it be "ECF" (Elemental Chlorine-Free) or "TCF" (Totally Chlorine Free) Paper?

Are you confused about which one to choose?

How can you get past the controversy to the facts?

What is Environmentally Preferred Paper?

According to the Paper Task Force, a group that included Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's Corp., The Prudential Insurance Co. of America, Duke University and the Environmental Defense Fund, Environmentally Preferred Paper (EPP) is defined as[1]:

"paper that reduces environmental impacts while meeting business needs."

This is a definition that "explicitly acknowledges that economic and performance considerations are central to purchasing decisions [1]." The report does not endorse specific manufacturing or bleaching technologies but rather lists action steps for paper purchasers to practice in purchasing.

One recommended step suggests "purchasers should look for opportunities to buy paper made by suppliers that employ environmentally preferable pulp and paper manufacturing technologies." The report recommends:

  1. Purchasers should give preference to paper manufactured by suppliers who have a vision of and a commitment to minimum-impact mills;

  2. Purchasers should give preference to paper products manufactured by suppliers who demonstrate a commitment to implementing sound environmental management of their mills; and

  3. Purchasers should give preference to paper manufactured by suppliers who demonstrate continuous environmental improvement toward minimum-impact mills by installing pollution-prevention technologies. Purchasers should assess and compare pulping and bleaching technologies including the following:

    • The replacement of elemental chlorine with chlorine dioxide (ECF) in the bleaching process;

    • Oxygen delignification and extended cooking; technologies that allow mills to increase their recovery of organic waste reduce bleaching chemical consumption; and

    • Technologies that allow for the reduction or elimination of process water discharge.

What Investor Groups Suggest

The Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) recently reviewed a shareholder resolution presented to Time Warner Inc. regarding purchase of paper bleached with chlorine. IRRC suggested [2]:

"In deciding how to vote on this resolution, investors may want to consider that the Paper Task Force's report does not advocate the total elimination of chlorine compounds in the bleaching process, nor does it endorse specific manufacturing technologies."

Questions and Answers

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Become an educated buyer. Before making a purchase, research this and other sites and consult with your suppliers to ensure they are offering environmentally preferable paper products.