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

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Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing!