The Forest Stewardship Council is the only certification system that requires a consensus solution when conflicts arise between logging companies and indigenous communities.

More than 140 publishers, including many of the world’s largest, have strong environmental policies.

When the goals set forth in the Book Industry Treatise on Responsible paper use are realized over 5 million trees will be preserved each year.

Each pound of postconsumer recycled fiber that replaces a ton of virgin fiber prevents the release of 2,108 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2006, an Opinion Research Corporation poll revealed that 80% of readers are willing to pay more for books printed on recycled and environmentally responsible paper.

Over the course of its lifecycle, postconsumer recycled fiber requires 30-40% less energy than virgin fiber.


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Solutions - Minimizing Production Impacts


In addition to using environmentally responsible paper, it is also important to minimize the use of toxic compounds involved in paper, book, and newspaper production.

Bleaching Process

There are several different certifications that relate to the use of chlorine and chlorine compounds during the bleaching process. Publishers wishing to minimize impacts should ensure that paper is processed chlorine free (PCF), or if it is 100% virgin fiber, that it is totally chlorine free (TCF).

It is important to avoid the use of chlorine and chlorine compounds because their use in bleaching releases a variety of toxic compounds including dioxins, a known human carcinogen.

Below are descriptions of the various labels relating to the bleaching process


Bleaching processes listed with most environmentally responsible first

  • Processed chlorine free (PCF) means that the paper contains recycled fiber (some of which may have originally been bleached using chlorine compounds) and was bleached without the use of chlorine or chlorine compounds.
  • Totally chlorine free (TCF) is a label only used for 100% virgin fiber that was bleached without the use for chlorine or chlorine compounds.
  • Enhanced ECF with ozone or hydrogen peroxide removes more of the lignin form the wood prior to bleaching, and therefore requires less energy and chemicals to bleach. Ozone or hydrogen peroxide replaces chlorine compounds as an initial brightening agent. The final bleaching process uses chlorine dioxide
  • Elemental chlorine free with extended or oxygen delignification (Enhanced ECF) removes more of the lignin form the wood prior to bleaching. The final bleaching process uses chlorine dioxide
  • Elemental chlorine free (ECF) uses chlorine dioxide in place of chlorine in the bleaching process
  • Bleached using elemental chlorine uses chlorine during the bleaching process. In the U.S. the use of elemental chlorine bleaching was phased out in 2001 under the EPA’s cluster rule.


Preference should be given to vegetable based inks with a low level (<5%) of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Vegetable based inks utilize corn, walnut, coconut, linseed, canola and soy-bean oils which are all renewable resources (unlike petroleum). Vegetable based inks frequently have a lower percentage of VOCs, which contribute to air and water pollution.

Vegetable based inks also have several other  advantages. Compared to petroleum inks, less vegetable ink is needed for a given print job, it is easier to deink the paper when it is recycled, and it can result in brighter colors. Just because a given ink is vegetable or soy based, does not automatically mean that it is a low VOC ink. Some vegetable based inks contain 25% VOCs.

It is also important to ensure that the inks do not contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead or cadmium, which are most often used in brightly colored inks.

Read more about the benefits of soy based inks in this EPA Study

Additional Resources

More information about toxic compounds used in the paper bleaching process, and in inks is available at the links below.

Environmental Paper Network State of the Industry Report

NRDC –Getting Mercury out of Paper Production

NRDC-Avoiding Chlorine in Paper Bleaching

Read about the toxic impacts of a paper mill on the androscoggin river

EPA study on the benefits of soy based inks



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