When evaluating greener paper options, take into consideration not just the source of the fiber in the available stocks but also the processes used to create these more environment-friendly sheets. In particular, the bleaching process produces harmful dioxin gases, even when taking post-consumer material and de-inking it for reuse.
The following terminology, as reported by San Francisco–based paper manufacturer New Leaf Paper on its Web site, applies to papers that have been created without chlorine for bleaching and, thus, are less harmful to the environment:
Unbleached—Unbleached paper is either gray or dyed during paper-making. This process involves the least environmental impact. Unbleached paper with post-consumer waste often is not
de-inked as well. The ink is visible in the paper in the form of tiny ink dots.
Processed Chlorine Free (PCF)—This refers to recycled paper made without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives. Common bleaching agents are hydrogen peroxide (which, when used, breaks down into water and oxygen) and ozone.
Totally Chlorine Free (TCF)—This refers to virgin paper made without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives. (The term “virgin” means the fiber has never been used to make paper or any paper-based products.) … New Leaf Paper think[s] this distinction between TCF and PCF is environmentally misleading. While TCF sounds better, PCF is more environmentally sound, since this term is reserved for recycled rather than virgin papers. Some environmental organizations have suggested that the term PCF be dropped, and that TCF refer to all paper made with a totally chlorine-free bleaching process, thus eliminating any confusion.
A final tip about recycled paper: To legally use the recycled logo on your direct mail pieces, your efforts must be printed on uncoated paper that contains at least 30 percent post-consumer material or coated paper with at least 10 percent post-consumer material.