Recycled-Content Paper Products on the Rise

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Recycled paper fiber is being offered in more products as companies continue to implement eco-friendly practices. Along these lines, two national companies, specializing in completely different paper products, have announced plans to use recycled content in their upcoming offerings.

On one end of the spectrum is Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures tissue and paper towel products with brands including Kleenex®, Huggies® and Scott®. Kimberly-Clark will be complying with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards for sourcing its paper fiber, which includes finding wood from sustainably harvested forests and incorporating recycled content.

Photo: Amanda Wills,

Barnes & Noble will soon carry a line of recycled-content journals. Photo: Amanda Wills,

The company recently set a goal of 40 percent FSC-certified or recycled content by 2011, making it the first tissue company to comply with FSC requirements.

“FSC standards are globally recognized as the highest social and environmental standards in forestry,” said Richard Thorne, vice president of Kimberly-Clark Professional North America. “This certification enables us to support forest stewardship as well as continue to provide a wide range of sustainable product choices for our customers.”

Buying products like paper towels and tissues made with recycled content is one way to incorporate recycling into their life cycle, as they generally are not recyclable. Typically used to handle food, the oil absorbed by these products cannot be removed during the paper recycling process (which relies heavily on water).

Additionally, they are generally made of a lower quality of paper, meaning the fibers are not as strong, and there is less value to recycle them into a new product. This is all part of the downcycling process that occurs during paper recycling.

Meanwhile in the publishing world, Sterling Publishing teamed up with Barnes & Noble to sell a new brand of journals and notebooks called Ecosystem, made of 100 percent recycled paper and other recyclable materials. In addition, the products are made in the U.S. and are available various forms such as lined pages for writers and blank pages for artists.

Unlike most traditional journals, the Ecosystem journals and planners are recyclable. Each notebook is individually numbered, and you can visit Ecosystem’s Web site to find out not only where your notebook was made, but where to recycle various elements like its latex cover.

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Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.
Trey Granger

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  1. This is a great article that looks deeper into the broader life-cycle for paper products. However, while products like paper towels and tissue may not be recyclable they are compostable. The overall goal should be a combination of conservation as well as an overall reduction of what goes into our landfills, and even our oceans (thinking of plastics here).

  2. I have some ideas regarding recycling. Would like to speak to someone at Earth911. I have worked with
    and researched that many companies currently do not recycle. I have an some ideas to fix this problem.

    Thanks, Kelley Davis

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