Updated Paper Waste Standards Deliver Big Environmental Wins
1/8/2019 | Doug Gatlin
It’s a simple but harsh truth: America has a paper waste problem
Americans throw out 68 million tons of paper each year – that’s 417 pounds per person. Until this year, the U.S. could handle this immense volume by shipping one-third of our waste to China, but due to new Chinese policies, almost all of that refuse is now staying in the US and going straight to our landfills. The paper that we recycle each day shouldn’t be sitting in landfills when it can be processed and used to create new products - but it will continue to pile up unless we rise to the challenge by choosing paper products made from recycled material.
Facility Managers and Procurement Pros: You have an important role to play
Lower your building’s environmental footprint and help all of us tackle the paper waste challenge by making greener purchasing choices, like choosing Green Seal certified sanitary paper products to make sure that you’re getting the highest percentages of post-consumer recycled content.
This simple choice will immediately lower the environmental impact of your building operations and clearly demonstrate a facility-wide commitment to solving our national paper waste issue and to conserving precious natural resources – our forests. Green Seal has made it simple for you to make the greenest choice because we’ve done the hard work. We’ve conducted extensive research to ensure that our standards accurately reflect the highest levels of leadership on today’s market: the greenest feasible fiber content, a chlorine-free papermaking process, a low energy and water-use manufacturing process, ingredients that are significantly safer for human health, and verified performance that users appreciate.
Over the last 20 years, more and more manufacturers have stood up to our challenge – and undergone our thorough certification process – to prove that their sanitary paper products meet each of the 12 major best practices that Green Seal has identified as key impacts within the product lifecycle. The results of your greener paper purchases can be ballparked with help from the Environmental Paper Network. According to Portland's Sustainability At Work program, For a 120-person office, over one year, your company will save 8,700 trees, 1 million pounds of emissions (the equivalent of removing 100 cars from the roads), and 5.6 million gallons of water. Those green brags are easy wins that you can include in your annual sustainability metrics report.
Continuous Improvement in Environmental Benchmarking
To make sure that we’re supporting today’s environmental challenges, Green Seal implemented a major review of the GS-1 standard, and today we’re relaunching it as Edition 6.2.
With direct feedback from manufacturers and end users, the standard is now more in-line with industry practices. We’ve removed the unintentional barriers to certification, expanded number of pathways for compliance, improved the readability of the standard, and maintained the stringent level of protections for human health and our environment. With these improvements, we are now off to the races, setting the stage for a major shift in this industry. With feasible leadership standards, Green Seal is incentivizing higher rates of landfill diversion and certifying a wider selection of bath tissue, paper napkins, tray liners, and other sanitary paper products that we use every day. Purchasing Green Seal-certified products is a simple choice that can have tremendous impact on our environment. From facility managers to restaurant owners to everyday consumers like me, making simple changes in our purchasing habits can help significantly reduce waste and stabilize the U.S. recycled paper market. I urge you to join me in making this change, because it’s up to us to reduce our waste footprint and ensure that we have a healthy planet for generations to come.