There are national days for anything and everything, and whilst I applaud the people behind #recycleweek, I also despair at the need for this day! Unless you have been walking round with a paper (recycled of course) bag on your head for the past couple of decades, you cannot possible be unaware of the importance of recycling. For most items it is also now made incredibly easy for us.
At woodblock we take our responsibility to the environment very seriously. Clearly we are in an industry that needs to. But the news from our sector is very positive. According to The European Declaration on Paper Recycling (Monitoring Report 2016), ‘the paper recycling rate in Europe is now 72.5%’, which is the highest in the world.
Paper has had a bit of bad rap in recent years as the use of the internet soared and organisations desperately attempted to make their offices paperless but paper is a wonderful material. Here I will refer to the very knowledgeable people at Two Sides (and their wonderful website), an organisation who ‘promote the sustainability of the graphic communications supply chain and dispel common environmental misconceptions by providing users with verifiable information on why print and paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium’. It is very easy to assume there is no environmental impact of electronic communications but the reality is somewhat different as these few facts highlight:
-Each year, the electronic industry – one of the world’s largest and fastest growing – generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste from goods such as computers and smart phones. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2015
-The ICT industry accounts for approximately 2% of global emissions, on par with emissions from the global aviation sector. GeSI SMARTer2020: The Role of ICT in Driving a Sustainable Future (2015 report)
If compared with the electricity demand of countries in the same year, the cloud would rank 6th in the world, with demand expected to increase 63% by 2020. Greenpeace, 2014
So, as you can see paper isn’t a bad guy, it is a natural, renewable and sustainable product. From a business point of view it can be a very powerful medium, especially in a time when so much of what we are bombarded with is electronic. Paper’s tangibility can provide a more meaningful and long term message than its tech rival.
Paper production also now has a number of renowned certification schemes which work to ensure that paper is sourced responsibily. At Woodblock, we only buy paper which is FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) approved. Additionally, our main supplier has created ‘Woodland Carbon’ in partnership with The Woodland Trust. Through this scheme customers get the opportunity to capture equivalent amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are released from the production, storage and distribution of the paper they buy and sell. We contribute to the scheme for which tonne of paper we buy and this money goes directly to funding the planting of trees.
We are also very proud to stock truly innovative recycled products such as the Extract range of paper by G.F Smith which is made from recycled coffee cups and the Appeel notebooks by Castelli, which are made from apple peelings.
So, we can be sure of the paper that comes into our offices but what of it then?
We like to try to give our foolscap as many lives as possible. Unusable scraps or print which we consider less than perfect (only the very best will do) gets collected together along with obsolete packaging and goes to ours children’s school to be used for arts and crafts and junk modelling. Once the little darlings have had their fun, the paper makes its way to the big green bins for recycling, so at least it gets another lease of life before the recycler. Items that are unsuitable for the school are collected for recycling.
However, paper has a life span and cannot be recycled indefinitely. The fibres within the paper become too short and worn to be usable. It also not possible to rely entirely on this source as not all paper is recycled so we would find ourselves in a paper deficit. Therefore, recycling is only part (but a very large part) of the story. As mentioned source sustainably, and replanting is critical. Even silly simple things like using both sides of a page reduces waste-as one supermarket likes to tell us frequently- ‘every little helps’! There is definitely more we can do at Woodblock. Our packaging is primarily recyclable and we aim to use a recycled filler but we are finding that it doesn’t always some of our products.
There is absolutely no question of the importance of recycling and hopefully #recycleweek will help to further motivate/encourage/prompt/badger (whatever is takes) people to do the right thing.