Monday, May 17, 2010

Green Printing tip #45: How Do I Avoid Greenwashing?

We are back today with a new tip on our weekly series of green printing tips, where we bring you information on green printing in collaboration with Greg Barber, an experienced eco-friendly printer.

Today Greg is talking about an important issue - greenwashing. To get an idea how common this issue is just take a look at the report 'Seven Sins of Greenwashing', which found that 98% of products reviewed on this study committed at least one of the sins of greenwashing!

How Do I Avoid Greenwashing?

Tip #45

It is important that we use the definition of recycled paper and the
definition of processed chlorine free bleaching, and apply these definitions when avoiding Greenwashing.

When you see an advertisement for the most environmental printing for business cards and postcards that features FSC and soy inks, it is the right time to ask a few questions.

Your first question to the printer should be, " How much Post-Consumer Waste is in the paper used for my job?"

The second question should be, "How is the paper bleached?"

I will take a good guess at the responses to those two questions - Our paper is FSC certified and is Elementally Chlorine Free (ECF), or our paper is 10% Post-Consumer waste recycled and the bleaching is Chlorine Free.

Now we go back to the definitions. Recycled paper must contain 30% PCW if the paper is uncoated and 10% PCW, if the paper is a coated grade. The 10% PCW response would make the paper a recycled sheet.

In regards to the bleaching question, ECF sounds good, but is not good. ECF uses Chlorine Dioxide and will cause Dioxins to be created, when mixed with other chemicals.

In either response that I guessed at, there is too much emphasis on FSC and ECF is fooling the public. It sounds good, but it uses Chlorine.

To be more environmental, I suggest using 100% PCW paper and 100% Processed Chlorine Free bleaching. PCF only occurs when you use 100% PCW paper. Otherwise, it will be ECF bleaching.

FSC is a good organization, but easy to manipulate to appear Greener than you really are.

Next week, I will review how to save money on your next environmental printing job.

For additional information, please visit and You're also invited to contact Greg via email at

You can find links to all the tips at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing!

1 comment:

Archie said...

I wanted to introduce myself, my name is Archie Beaton- Executive Director of the Chlorine Free Products Association (CFPA). The CFPA is an internationally recognized standards and accreditation association founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit headquartered in Algonquin in the State of Illinois, USA

In our experiences there are many paper companies doing exactly the same mislabeling as the Body Care Products you have found lacking integrity. One example happened just this last month when recently one of our certified tissue mills bought up a competitor who made claims they were PCF (Processed Chlorine Free). As our auditing firm began working with the mill management and walked through these mills they found the plants didn’t and couldn’t meet the standards for PCF.).

The CFPA works with international experts involved in water, energy, carbon gas, and forestry conservation; raw material management; pollution prevention; government; environmentally preferred purchasers; academia; and corporate social responsibility. Our standards are dedicated to sustainable manufacturing and environmental practices improving industrial performance. All products are screened under the SMI (Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative) TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) – PCF (Processed Chlorine Free) using a Sustainability Index = Environmental Policy + Environmental Management + Mill Process + Forestry Certification + Environmental Risk Management + Product Stewardship + Public Information + Environmental Compliance + Employee Recognition

CFPA is a leader in acknowledging the need for third party chain of custody for raw materials, audits of processes and working toward promoting certified sustainable manufacturing process and products. The Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative (SMI TCF-PCF) guidelines provide real environmental value to the market. CFPA has no financial interest in the products it certifies, in any manufacturer, or company.

Archie Beaton
Executive Director
Chlorine Free Products Association
1304 S. Main St
Algonquin, IL 60102
847-658-6104 office
847-658-3152 fax