Rethinking paper and sustainable printing

This article is sponsored by Rolland Paper Co.

It may be time for you to let go of your printer anxiety. If you are mindful of your environmental impact, you’ve likely fretted over whether your document was really worth printing, all the while wishing you could take your eyes off the screen for a while and read some actual paper. Your conflicting objectives need no longer be incompatible.

Rolland Paper is rethinking the intersection between paper and sustainability. The company, which produces primarily recycled paper, recognizes that it’s unrealistic to think the modern business world ever will be entirely paperless, so it wants us to focus instead on production, consumption and the supply chain connecting all stakeholders, which can lead to a more sustainable society.

Clean production

"Rolland is the only paper mill to actually use biogas to power our company," explained Michele Bartolini, marketing director, North America. "Ninety-three percent of our energy is thermal instead of using traditional combustible fuels." The company’s carbon footprint is at an industry low.

Rolland started making recycled paper in 1989, at the forefront of the industry. In 2004, the company invested a lot of money in creating alternative manufacturing pathways. Rolland is in St. Jerome, Canada, 8 miles away from a garbage dump. One day, a Rolland engineer had an idea. He saw a TV program on alternative energy and wondered about the dump so close by. He proposed that Rolland work with its local gas provider to use biogas — or, affectionately, "garbage gas" — to fuel the paper plant. The company made his idea a reality, and now it is displacing carbon-intensive virgin fibers and fossil fuels with its production approach.

The biogas plant emerged as a creative way to reduce Rolland’s CO2 footprint by 70,000, tons or the equivalent of taking 23,400 compact cars off the road for one year (and why they call it their best kept secret).

No more gray and scratchy

If you’re old enough, you may remember the days when recycled paper first showed up in office supply stores. Let’s face it, you had to be committed, because that paper was terrible: gray, scratchy, too thick and fibrous to be paper but too flimsy to be cardboard. Oh, how the times have changed.

"Rolland’s fine uncoated papers contain a maximum amount of post-consumer fiber up to 100 percent," noted Bartolini, "but the days when you had to compromise quality for sustainability are gone." Rolland’s recycled papers are up to 96 percent bright, versus virgin paper, which is 98 percent. Most people can’t even tell the difference when they look.

But there’s more to buying paper, and Rolland takes the work out of it for you with its paper comparison tool. The right paper makes the difference between a great result and a truly awesome one, and the tool helps you pick the best attributes for your needs while meeting your sustainability goals.

But sometimes, you just need numbers. Whether it’s to determine the return on investment of a purchase decision, meet print policy goals or communicate with shareholders, Rolland provides an Eco Calculator that helps customers quantify the number of trees, gallons of water and other savings gained from using its recycled papers.

Bona fides

Rolland has conducted two full life-cycle analysis assessments of its recycled paper products and published the full results on its website. While one would expect recycled paper to outperform virgin paper on global warming potential, Rolland also substantially outperforms other recycled paper manufacturers on this measure, thanks in part to its biogas plant.

Rolland also works closely with like-minded businesses, including Patagonia, Cirque du Soleil and LUSH, to supply paper these companies can feel good about, with which they can reduce their environmental footprint. They regularly audit Rolland, as do the Forest Stewardship Council, Ecologo and more, assuring consistently high standards for sustainability and quality.

These partner companies are united by a shared passion for sustainability, which comes through resoundingly on Rolland’s Green Champions blog, a forum for sharing knowledge, concerns and ideas relating to the environment, green practices, recycling, paper recovery, paper usage or any other related topics.

So go ahead, print that document you need in hard copy. Rolland’s calculators can help you figure out how to optimize quality, functionality and sustainability to get the paper that works best for you, and to keep your office and your ideas flowing smoothly.