On October 11, an audience of federal employees heard representatives from industry and government discuss the quality of recycled paper containing groundwood (mechanical pulp). The minutes of that meeting follow.
Industry was represented by individuals from paper makers: International Paper, Bowater Communications Papers, Garden State Paper, Union Camp Corporation, Weyerhaeuser Corporation; and from waste paper dealers: Canusa Corporation and Excell Fiber Company. Government was represented by individuals from GSA Engineering--Paper Products, GSA National Capital Region, Government Printing Office Materials Management Service, Department of the Interior, National Archives and Records Administration, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory. The audience was composed of Federal employees from a wide range of government agencies and a few from the non-government sector.
Generally, the meeting concerned the use of International Paper's "Unity DP/Incentive 100 DP" copy paper in government offices. IP's Unity paper is 100 percent recycled paper containing more than one-half post-consumer waste made of old newspapers and magazine stock. Called "natural shade," the paper is only 60 in brightness (most white paper is in the high 70s or the 80s). The IP representative said that it passed the "German standard for permanence," is alkaline and has high opacity which makes it good for two-sided printing; also, the manufacturing process to make it requires no additional chlorine bleaching. The paper is manufactured by a new patented process developed in Germany. IP maintains that Unity paper can be recycled 3-7 times. All the other paper manufacturers recommended limiting groundwood in writing and printing paper. The percentage most often suggested was 10 percent or less. From the manufacturing point of view, it would not pay to increase groundwood because of loss of strength, loss of brightness, increased time to drain, and quality control problems. It was also pointed out that a mill which has its own pulping facility operates at peak efficiency with that facility running. If the facility is idled while it waits for more pulp from recyclers, the cost will likely be passed to the customer. It was stressed that the more likely target for recycled groundwood is newsprint and tissue.
Manufacturers pointed out that groundwood papers mixed with white papers degrade the recycle stock. The recyclers agreed that the presence of groundwood papers in the collected papers brought all papers down to the groundwood level of low value. In many instances, the office has to pay the recycler to take it away. On the other hand, the market for recycled white paper is good.
Several government spokespersons said that the only way the groundwood paper could be used widely and not destroy the recycling program is by an intense campaign to educate the consumer to separate the waste papers in the office; that is, keep the groundwood papers out of the white papers. Researchers at USDA's Forest Products Laboratory call the groundwood copy paper "upcycled paper." It is being used subsequently as a higher quality paper than its initial use. Forest Products Laboratory's studies showed that when groundwood copy paper is recycled and mixed equally with a paper that was 50 percent recycled and 10 percent postconsumer content, the strength of the resulting sheet is much lower than the prior [50/20] sheet and drains more slowly. The National Archives spokesperson reminded government officials that there is a mandate to preserve permanently valuable papers by use of permanent paper. The Interior Department person said that he has mandated the use of Joint Committee on Printing paper specification A270 [the equivalent of the ANSI/NISO standard of permanence] for all permanent files within Interior. However, the department has ordered that IP's Unity paper be used in each copy machine.
The message from industry was that despite their ability to use more postconsumer waste, the amount of groundwood they would accept for most grades of paper would be in the 3 to 10 percent range. The message from the National Capital Region recycling coordinator is that unless an agency wants to pay to have its office paper re-used, they should not let the high groundwood papers enter the white paper waste stream.Alan Calmes