There are two main types of recycled paper, both of which add value (or conserve value) within a circular economic chain. In a commercial world, waste products and used products that can be funnelled into a new or renewed purpose are ideal, to help support global goals of sustainability and eco-friendliness.
The Forest Stewardship Council differentiates between the two types of recycled fibre used in paper production in the following way:
Post-consumer reclaimed material is that which is reclaimed from a consumer or commercial body that has been used for its intended purpose by end-users.
Pre-consumer reclaimed material is that which is reclaimed from a process of secondary manufacture in which the material was not intentionally produced and is unfit for end use or for reuse onsite.
This type of recycled paper is recovered from paper used in industrial applications such as printing overruns. The product never reached the end user, and thus never served a useful purpose nor entered the economy.
Examples of pre-consumer fibre extend to offcuts, overruns, newsstand returns, and fibre by-products.
This type of recycled paper is an embodiment of the circular economic system in which we find ourselves. Post-consumer fibre is manufactured from recycled materials that have served a purpose to end users. The manufactured item is then sold back into the marketplace, where it will serve another purpose to another end user and can be recycled again. This creates a sustainable yet profitable cycle.
Only recycled paper made from post-consumer materials is sourced from recycling programs, fed by the recycling bins people leave out for municipalities to collect. These recycled materials include newspapers, office documents, promotional materials and more.
In this way, post-consumer materials produce paper that is truly “recycled”.
Pre-consumer reclaimed material is something that a manufacturer wouldn’t have reused in their production process, so it is repurposed instead of wasted. This is equally as beneficial to the environment but is seen as less profitable to the company creating the unusable material.
That said, it depends on where you values lie. We value the recycling of materials, used or unused, to reduce wastage and pollution, regardless of their profit cycles.
Learn more about the paper industry and its related products on our blog page! We regularly post articles helping you to make eco-friendly decisions and learn about the Kiki Bag process.