What's your paper policy? 
With the dawn of 2010, it would be easy to assume a majority of companies have instituted recycling policies – or at least set up recycling bins for office paper. Unfortunately, only about half of all office paper is actually recycled. That means a great deal of the 4 million tons of copy paper used each year ends up in landfills and dumps.

The Environmental Paper Network is taking steps to improve both recycling efforts as well as the manufacturing of recycled paper. The network is a diverse group of environmental organization joining forces to support environmentally sustainable policies and efforts within the pulp and paper industry. This latest initiative, called the RePaper Project, not only has a goal of increasing recycled paper, but also creating “social conditions that spur technological innovations and create sustainable job markets.”

The primary objectives of the RePaper Project , which includes on its steering committee the As You Sow Foundation, Conservatree, Green America, Green Press Initiative and the National Wildlife Federation, are to:
• Increase office paper recovery rate from 50% to 75% by 2015.
• Increase post-consumer recycled content in printing and writing papers from 6% to 15% by 2015, and 30% by 2020.
• Increase awareness of recycled content printing and writing papers.

Key to the effort will be educating businesses on how they can get involved, both in using more post-consumer recycled paper and in recycling much more of the paper they do use. And certainly part of this effort can be about teaching people to think before they print, so printing isn’t the norm but rather an occasional necessity.

And don’t forget the financial component (always appealing to your CFO).
• Print on both sides of the paper. There, you just cut your paper purchasing costs in half.
• Only print when necessary – make use of pdfs, e-mail, file share sites and e-faxing. There, you just cut the paper purchasing in half again.
• Reuse paper that looks bound for the trash. You can easily turn half sheets of paper into scratch pads to jotting down notes and phone numbers. There, you just saved more money because you didn’t by notepads or those “while you were out” message pads.

Additional resources:
• The RePaper Project Web site has a number of resources, including the “Office Paper Recovery Guide” targeting office managers.
• The California Integrated Waste Management Board also has a Web site filled with posters and stickers that promote reductions in paper use. (one of the posters is pictured)
• The Environmental Defense Fund’s “Action Guide to Greener Paper” is a few years old but still has many relevant tips and ideas for cutting paper use.

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