"Recycled" is a term that is often used loosely by companies to market their products. When shopping for recycled products clarify what percentage of the content is actually recycled, and what type of recycling is being done.
In Canada, paper qualifies for the government-sponsored "Eco-logo" if it contains more than 10% post-consumer fibre.
It is essential to ensure that a product in question has as high a recycled content as possible. Aim for a minimum of 50% post-consumer recycled content with as high a recycled content as possible (e.g. 100% recycled, 60% post-consumer recycled).
The "post-consumer" part means exactly what it suggests – that it has been used out in the marketplace by the consumer and then returned to the supply machine for recycling. It has no other possible future use other than as waste.
Without this post-consumer specification, a factory could over-produce an item, have it sit on a shelf unused, and then return the item back into the recycling chain without it ever have been used. Unlike the post-consumer product, this product could have many potential future uses other than as a waste product.
If the recycling process is not post-consumer, it is at odds with our goal of reducing our overall forest consumption by the reuse of forest products (amongst other strategies).
Post-Consumer Recycled - a finished material that has completed its life cycle as a consumer item and would normally be disposed of as a solid waste, is reconstituted into post-consumer recycled fibre in a recycling mill (e.g. office waste paper, household newspapers and magazines). Aim for as high post-consumer recycled content as possible.
Pre-Consumer Waste Paper - paper recovered after the papermaking process, but before used by a consumer.
Reused Product - any product, which can be used repeatedly for the same or other purposes without additional processing, except for painting, cleaning or minor repairs.