Simplified Sample Policy

Use this policy as a model, replace [Organisation] with the name of yours and adapt it to meet your needs. Consult with a member organisation of EPN to create a leading paper policy.

Paper plays a key role in [Organisation]’s operations. We are concerned about the future of the world’s forests and the environmental impacts of paper production. We are therefore committed to purchasing, using, and disposing of paper in ways that protect endangered forests and their associated biodiversity, reduce pollution, and minimise waste. By developing a comprehensive paper policy, [Organisation] is making a commitment to implement and track results of our paper efficiency and procurement strategies by:

  1. Using Paper Efficiently by reducing consumption of paper and paper products when possible.
  2. Maximising Recycled Content by buying products with the highest post-consumer recycled content feasible for each specific need, but no less than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) minimums for federal agencies.
  3. Choose Responsibly-Sourced Fibre and give preference to paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  4. Supporting Cleaner Production Practices by selecting products that are processed without chlorine or chlorine compounds and giving preference to suppliers and manufacturers using renewable energy.
  5. Closing the Loop by implementing and maintaining a recycling system to ensure the raw materials for producing recycled-content paper are readily available.
  6. Spreading the Word by producing an annual sustainability report and posting information on our paper policy and practices on our website, and promoting responsible paper use in publications as appropriate.

[Organisation] supports the goals set forth in the Environmental Paper Network’s (EPN) Global Paper Vision. [Organisation] pledges to work with stakeholders – including the environmental community, suppliers, and other institutional purchasers – to increase the demand for environmentally preferable paper and to encourage the paper industry to meet these goals.

1. Using Paper Efficiently
Using paper efficiently is a key first step in reducing the environmental impacts associated with paper use. To use paper efficiently, [Organisation] will:

  • Assess current paper and packaging usage across all aspects of operations
  • Increase paper efficiency by [x amount] by [date], upon which time paper use will be re-evaluated and a new target established. [Organization] will develop a method for tracking and documenting results.
  • Institute practices that increase paper efficiency, including, but not limited to:
  • Substituting electronic communications for printing.
  • Purchasing copiers, printers, and fax machines that can be set to default to double-sided printing.
  • Reusing products such as file folders, storage boxes, and paper printed on one side.
  • Reducing the basis weight and trim sizes of printed pieces.
  • Rethinking design processes to minimise printing and copying waste.
  • Minimizing unsolicited mail, both sent and received.
  • Minimizing overruns and maximizing sell-through for published materials.
2. Maximising Recycled Content
Purchasing recycled-content paper and paper products has far reaching environmental benefits and will encourage suppliers to increase their capabilities in providing these products. To maximize the recycled content in paper and paper products, [Organisation] will:

  • Purchase and source paper and paper products that contain the highest postconsumer recycled content feasible for each specific need, but no less than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) minimums for federal agencies.
  • Set a timeline for increasing the postconsumer content in purchased paper products as quickly as possible to higher percentages.
  • Give preference to paper and paper products whose postconsumer recycled content is verified by an independent, third-party organisation, such as the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Give preference to paper and paper products that also contain other recovered materials (e.g. preconsumer recycled content, agricultural residues, etc.) after maximising post-consumer recycled content.
3. Choosing Responsibly-Sourced Fibre
[Organisation] supports responsible forest management practices that protect biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, and long-term benefits to communities. To promote the use of responsibly-sourced fibre in paper and paper products, [Organisation] will:

  • Verify Supply Origin: Purchase papers listed on EPN’s paper hierarchy when possible. If existing suppliers and manufacturers cannot provide these papers, we will verify with them the source of any virgin fibre content in paper and give preference to suppliers and manufacturers that establish a credible “Chain of Custody” tracking system to reliably identify the origin of fibre sources. We will work with EPN member organisations to assist us with this process.
  • Endangered Forests: Give preference to paper and paper products guaranteed to be free of fibre that threatens endangered forests. We currently support the definition of endangered forests as outlined in the Wye River Coalition’s Endangered Forests: High Conservation Value Forests Protection – Guidance for Corporate Commitments and ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Rainforest Action Network’s Ecological Components of Endangered Forests. We will consult with environmental experts, including EPN member organisations, for assistance in identifying endangered forests and paper and paper products from these forests.
  • Forest Conversion to Plantations: Give preference to paper and paper products that can be guaranteed to be free of fibres from the conversion of diverse natural forest ecosystems into plantations. This policy supports the Forest Stewardship Council’s criteria specifying November 1994 as the cut off date for no more conversion of natural forests to plantations. Wood from forests converted to plantations after November 1994 is unacceptable unless the plantations are being restored to natural forests.
  • Certified Virgin Fibre: Give preference to paper and paper products with a remaining virgin tree fibre content that is certified by independent, third-party organisations that employ the most environmentally and socially responsible forest management and restoration practices. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only acceptable international certification program that meets this guidance. Other certification systems may be considered by [Organisation] if their performance-based forest management and chain-of-custody standards meet or exceed FSC’s standards; their governance and funding mechanisms are fully balanced, transparent, and independent; and they are widely accepted by environmental and social stakeholders. [Organisation] will consult with environmental and other experts, such as EPN member organisations, when evaluating certification systems.
  • Alternative Natural Fibers: Give preference to paper and paper products made from agricultural residue fibres, such as wheat straw.  Consider alternative fibre crops (e.g. hemp, kenaf, etc.) only if Life Cycle Assessment and other comprehensive and credible analysis indicates that the fibres are environmentally and socially preferable to other sources of virgin fibre.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms: Buy paper and paper products with fibre content known to be free from genetically modified organisms. This includes transgenically modified trees and plants that have genes of other animals and plants inserted.
4. Supporting Cleaner Production Practices
[Organisation] supports minimizing the environmental impacts of paper production. To encourage cleaner production practices, [Organisation] will:

  • Give preference to paper and paper products processed without chlorine or chlorine compounds (i.e. “processed chlorine free” or PCF papers), as long as they also meet recycled content goals. [Organization] will set timelines for converting purchases of recycled content paper to PCF.
  • Choose paper with the minimum brightness suitable for our printing needs to further minimise environmental impacts from paper bleaching.
  • Avoid coatings and bright-colored papers whenever possible.
  • Give preference to suppliers and manufacturers that use renewable energy to supply electricity for their facilities, either on-site or through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs).
  • Use vegetable-based inks (e.g. soy, linseed, corn, etc.) and inks free of toxic metals whenever possible.
5. Closing the Loop
[Organisation] supports measures to secure the availability of environmentally preferable papers, such as maintaining a paper recycling program. To ensure the raw materials for producing recycled-content paper must be readily available, [Organisation] will:

  • Collect and recycle paper that has been used internally as well as paper that is received from outside sources. If a paper recycling program does not currently exist, we will work with our building managers and suppliers to implement such a system.
  • Educate co-workers as to what is required of them, including alerting cleaning staff and waste haulers to keep recyclables separate from trash.
6. Spreading the Word
[Organisation] recognizes the benefit of promoting environmental awareness with our employees, suppliers, customers, partners, and the public. To publicly promote our commitment to using paper efficiently and purchasing environmentally preferable paper, [Organisation] will:

  • Publish and distribute to all interested stakeholders an annual sustainability report, which will detail progress in implementing this policy and any other activities related to [Organisation]’s impact on the environment.
  • Post our environmental paper purchasing policy, goals, and achievements on our website.
  • Print on documents (e.g. letterhead stationary, envelopes, publications, etc.) an accurate description of the attributes of the environmentally preferable papers used, in order to raise awareness and accountability. Such attributes include, but are not limited to, postconsumer recycled content, bleaching technology (i.e. PCF), and any applicable eco-logos or certifications.
  • Encourage suppliers to adopt similar paper policies and implement other environmentally and socially responsible practices.

7. Measurement and reporting
[Organisation] will track progress towards the goals of this policy by transparently providing public, annual reports on progress towards goals. The policy and its goals will be reviewed every [X] years, and examined for continual improvement or expansion based on progress, learning and new information.

8. Scope
This policy applies to all company operations, affiliated companies, and third-party license holders of [Organisation].