The difference between recycled and carbon neutral paper

By Gary Hunter

5 minute Read


  • Insight

Recycled and recyclable paper are both used by companies to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure that their print communications continue the life cycle of paper. Carbon neutral programmes are an effective way to offset carbon emitted in the print marketing process. We recently posted a blog about the various types of environmentally friendly paper like these, but now we’d love to share the specific differences between recycled and carbon neutral paper.

Recycled paper

There are two kinds of fibres in recycled paper: recycled fibres that have already been used, and new fibres that have been incorporated to ensure the paper can continue being recycled. Most recycled paper is not made of 100% recycled fibres because recycled fibres alone aren’t strong enough to be recycled again without any new fibres mixed in. Instead, most recycled paper is made up of both recycled and new fibres, ensuring it can continue to be recycled and live a long time in the life cycle of paper!

Carbon neutral paper

Carbon neutral paper is not necessarily made from recycled paper. Instead, carbon neutral paper is the result of carbon balancing programmes. These programmes calculate the amount of carbon emitted by the creation, transportation and usage of paper, and consequently offset the amount by equally investing in carbon enriching programmes. For example, the World Land Trust’s carbon balance programme reinvests in protecting the carbon rich habitat of the tropics. Carbon balancing programmes protect and promote the growth of forests but the products themselves are not necessarily environmentally friendly.

Despite their differences, both recycled and carbon neutral paper are great eco-friendly alternatives to regular run of the mill, non-accredited paper. Still, they are the bare minimum we should be doing! Both carbon balancing programmes combined with the use of recycled or accredited paper is the most environmentally friendly option. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how to make your paper more environmentally friendly.

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About the author

Gary is our production expert who loves nothing more than sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience with the Dragonfly team and uses his technical insight to guide our clients. With over 30 years’ experience in the industry Gary still has a passion for finding solutions and answers for all of our clients.