Which is the most responsible choice? Office paper made from recycled fiber or from virgin fiber? Virgin fiber office paper does not contain any recycled material, it is paper manufactured from new wood pulp, while recycled fiber office paper contains recycled material. When you care a great deal about the environment, picking a recycled office paper over one made from virgin fiber, might seem like the obvious choice – ”It must be more sustainable!”. But, when you get the chance to take a closer look, you’ll realize that it’s not a black-or-white kind of question.
For starters, there can be no recycled paper if there’s no virgin fiber paper to begin with. Fiber can be recycled several times. For each time you are recycling fiber there will be a loss of fibers. When you have recycled for about 20 times there is not much left to recycle, the fibers have become too short to be reduced and then they are burned for bioenergy.
Virgin fiber is ideal for the demanding office printing – long runs, graphic and picture rich work. Recycled fiber is shorter in length than long virgin fiber and is more susceptible to breakage and curl in office paper applications. More fibers are needed to achieve the same strength properties as office paper from virgin fiber. This increases the weight of the paper which also increases the environmental impact of transport. Virgin fiber is also less absorbent than recycled fiber. Therefore, images on recycled office paper are less sharp and will require more ink in office paper applications.
Since Multicopy is the market leading brand of sustainable premium office paper made from wood, we stress the superiority of virgin fiber when it comes to printing results and performance in our market segment.
It’s important to always consider fitness for purpose when selecting which fiber to use. At Stora Enso we use recycled fiber whenever it makes sense environmentally. Sorting and cleaning recycled paper to reach office paper type levels of whiteness can have a high environmental impact. Virgin fiber is suitable for applications that require higher strength, higher whiteness, great durability and low dusting.
Humans’ urge to communicate has always been strong – and with the evolution of paper, the written form of communicating opened a whole new world of efficiency, suddenly dismantling geographical boundaries. Naturally, the history of papermaking is closely connected to societal, industrial, and cultural events.
Eco-awareness and higher demands on sustainability features among customers tend to lead to good things. One current example is the initiated project at Stora Enso to certify all paper pulp grades as compostable, to helps consumers make more eco-friendly choices.
In 2021, the Multicopy production base in Nymölla mill took a step further in the fossil free journey, with Stora Enso entering a partnership with energy company Gasum. We had a talk with Erik Woode, Director, Project Development & Execution, at Gasum, to get a status update after one year of turning residue water from production into fossil free fuel.