What’s the best option? FSC-certified paper versus recycled paper

Helping you make the right paper choices

We get it. Like us you want to do the right thing when it comes to paper. But, when it comes down to the nitty gritty, what is the real difference between FSC-certified and recycled paper?

What do the different terms mean?

FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, it’s a global non-profit organisation which ensures the sustainable management of virgin paper production. The WWF believes that FSC is the only credible forest certification system which ensures environmentally and socially responsible management of forests. In simple terms, you can buy FSC-certified paper with confidence.

Meanwhile, recycled paper is old paper that has been given a new life by being turned into another paper product. However, when you buy recycled paper, it may not actually contain that much recycled content. And, what is the remainder made from? Is it virgin stock from a forest which has not been managed responsibly? To help resolve the confusion the FSC Recycled certification provides assurance that all the wood or paper in a product has been verified as genuinely reclaimed or recycled.

Is it better to choose recycled or virgin FSC paper?

Recycling paper makes the best use of the yield of the tree by extending the life span of its fibres. It also reduces the amount of waste going to landfill sites. Europe is the world leader when it comes to recycling paper, with 74% of paper recycled in 2020. This is fast approaching the practical maximum which is currently set at 78%. So, we’re doing a good job of making the most of our paper, using it on average 3.8 times.

Yet, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely as the fibres eventually get too short and worn out. This means that there is an ongoing need for the strong fibres of virgin timber pulp to enter the system to replenish the renewable cycle and keep it going. The key here is making sure that this virgin timber pulp comes from a sustainable source, which brings us back in a neat circle to FSC-certified forests.

In Summary

We need to have both recycled and FSC-certified paper in the system. And it’s important that you know exactly what you are buying. Working with an established, high quality printer like Orphans means we can provide all the detail about the individual paper stocks and help you make the best choice for your needs.

Our team is always happy to guide customers through the paper maze to find the right product for each project.

For further reading, take a look at our sources:
Forest Stewardship Council
Two Sides
– The Guardian “Is it better to use recycled paper or FSC-certified paper?”
– World Wildlife Fund