How Paper-Newt Works
We believe that businesses and organizations that go out of their way to use 100% recycled paper – plus have sound practices around recycling, reducing and re-using – should be recognized. Being responsible and paying extra for recycled paper costs money, and businesses for the most part are in the business of making money, not saving the planet. But businesses can and should be socially and environmentally responsible, and good citizenship should be rewarded and recognized. And that’s why we started the Paper-Newt program – to help businesses be recognized and to help the environment. And guess what, we found one of the best ways to do that is to help businesses eliminate their paper footprints by helping non-profits! (Click here to learn about paper-neutrality).
How can organizations become paper-neutral AND support non-profits at the same time?
It’s simple: the Paper-Newt program helps businesses become Paper-Neutral by providing them a verifiable means to offset the impact of their paper use by helping non-profit organizations reduce their impacts. It’s a win-win-win-win situation: for businesses wanting to green their operations, for non-profits needing support and wanting to green their own practices, for communities (by strengthening the non-profit sector), and for the environment (by reducing waste and promoting conservation). And what’s more? Paper-Newt offers third-party verification so that when a business or organization says it’s paper-neutral, you as a consumer can be confident that it is.
How Does the Paper-Offsetting Work?
If a business causes 100 units of environmental damage through its use of paper, for example, but then helps a non-profit reduce the non-profit’s paper-use impact by 100 units of environmental damage, the result is the business has a net environmental impact of zero – its paper footprint has been effectively offset or negated.
For simplicity, let’s say that 100% recycled paper has half the environmental impact of virgin (0% recycled) paper. It’s actually a bit more than half, and it’s not that simple to calculate, but for simplicity let’s say that recycled paper is twice as good for the environment as virgin paper (or that virgin paper is twice as bad). If that’s the case, then by changing from using 0% recycled paper to 100% recycled paper will result in half the environmental impact (as illustrated in the diagram below).
Now, if a business reduces the environmental impact of its use of paper as much as possible, and then it helps a non-profit reduce its impact by the same amount, then the business can effectively have a net environmental impact of zero (as illustrated in the diagram below).
So, to offset the environmental impact of its use of paper, a business can help a non-profit move from the use of 0% recycled paper to the use of 100% recycled paper. If the negative impact of the business’s use of paper equals or is less than the positive impact of helping the non-profit green its own operations, then the business’s paper footprint can be completely offset (as illustrated in the diagram below).
How Can a Business Offset Its Paper Impact by Donating Paper?
For every piece of office paper that a business uses, if the business helps non-profit organizations use 2.5 pieces of 100% recycled paper instead of 0% recycled paper, then the environmental impact of the business’s use of paper can be eliminated. (This of course works only if the non-profit recipients of the donated paper do not use more paper than they would have without the donation).
The table below illustrates the impact of a business using 1 ton of recycled paper and then helping a group of non-profit organizations replace their use of 2.5 tons of non-recycled paper with 2.5 tons of 100% recycled paper. If the business uses 100% recycled paper itself, then by helping these non-profits green their own operations results in the business’s paper purchasing behavior saving 10 tons of trees and offsetting 146% of the business’s paper greenhouse gas emissions, 500% of its resulting hazardous air pollutants, 241% of its resulting waste water, and 160% of the resulting solid waste produced. True, the business will be 20 pounds (or 80%) short of offsetting its resulting SO2 (sulphur dioxide) emissions and 3 pounds (or 37%) short of completely offsetting its NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions, plus there will be 31.5 extra pounds of chemical oxygen demand than if the business donated no recycled paper and used virgin paper itself. We at Paper-Newt, however, believe that the overall benefits the business’s actions far outweigh the minor negative consequences.