You might have heard that I am working on new products and finding recycled paper packaging. Staying with my brand standard is important. I want it to be good for us AND the planet [and our pets too]. That means seeking out ingredients and packaging that are not harmful. Plastic bags are convenient and reusable but unfortunately most people do not reuse their plastic bags. I wash and dry mine at home but that’s another article. In my search for better packaging options, I came across kraft boxes with the look and options I want. Through this process, I learned why recycled paper cost more than virgin wood pulp. The first kraft box I came across had zero recycled content. My gut told me there had to be someone making this same item but using recycled materials. Thank you Google, I found a company.
With my handy pad of paper, I jot down a few prices. Reviewing my earlier notes I see the recycled boxes are actually $0.28 MORE, yes 28 cents more that the virgin pulp boxes!! WHAT??, I say loudly. How can that be?
I had to know why. Initially, my response was, well, they have to build recycling centers and pay guys to haul it from the waste site to the recycling center. Then process it and present it back for sale again. It seems logical with all the extra steps add expense to recycled paper.
Wait, WHAT did I just think?How could recycled paper cost more? I was pretty sure ALL the paper I use does NOT come from trees grown in the United States. So if not here, it must come from far away. So… how could it be cheaper to cut a tree in another country, process it into a workable material and then have it shipped or freighted across the ocean to a paper mill here in the US. My thought process seemed logical.
I had to know more, to The Google I went…
I would like to share with you what I learned about recycled paper vs virgin wood pulp.
INDUSTRY POINT OF VIEW–
Several pointed out that most of the recycled pulp is bought on the open market, which is a much more expensive option for an integrated mill that has its own virgin pulp facility. Therefore, papers manufactured with purchased pulp would cost more than virgin papers produced from a company’s own pulp.
Jack Plomgren, marketing manager for Union Camp’s fine paper division (now International Paper), pointed to structural issues that make virgin pulp more economical. Referring to the paper industry, he said, “We are very efficient at bringing trees to a mill and pulping them.” But, he added in comparison, “As a country, we are not as efficient in collecting wastepaper from small offices, sorting it, and getting it to a mill for deinking,” resulting in price differentials at mills with virgin pulping facilities. He also noted that, “The quality of waste is impacting price,” with the unexpectedly high amount of “stickies” (many different types of adhesives) requiring mills to run higher, cleaner (and therefore more expensive) grades of wastepaper than their original projections. (1)
FACTS TO CONSIDER–
Here are a few facts to consider that may answer that question:(2)
Recycled paper has a more complex production process than brand new (virgin) paper, and those extra steps equate to more costs:
With brand new paper, there are only 3 steps in the production process: logging, milling and distribution.
Producing recycled paper requires many more additional steps which include:
Used paper collection and recovery process: Sorting and preparation to remove adhesives or staples that may be attached to the paper which must be removed before it can be processed
Once that’s complete, recycled paper must then go through pulping, and then to a de-inking facility (as most printing inks are not water soluble) to remove the ink and prevent the finished product from looking ‘dirty.’
Finally, the de-inked pulp is ready to go to a mill to be made into recycled paper.
ADVANTAGES OF RECYCLED PAPER–
These additional steps each involve costs, and explain why recycled paper is more expensive than brand new paper.
Although recycled paper is more expensive, many advocates of recycled paper point out the benefits of using non-virgin paper:
What decisions in your life do you make to stay in tune with your personal brand standard?
I hope you found this article as interesting as I did writing it.
Wishing you a beautiful day!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please join my mission to improve the world one load of laundry at a time. I believe It all begins with a ripple. Read my story how of I went from cubicle girl to steward of the entire planet.