Alternatives to Traditional Printing Paper

With growing environmental issues, talks about sustainable solutions have been on the rise. More and more businesses are beginning to adopt environmentally friendly operations and for good reason. Print shops are no exception.  

Being experts in the printing space, we’re more than aware of our business’s environmental impact. With regular use of inks, toner cartridges, and rigid paper consumption —it’s no doubt that looking for a cleaner way to do business is the responsible thing to do.  But how do you even start? 

Most print shops have taken to digitizing data as a route to eco-friendly operations. However, in this article, we’re offering up another method for copy and print shops to achieve sustainability in their business without having to give up their bread and butter—paper. We’ll be discussing why using alternatives to traditional printing paper is important and what are their better paper alternatives.  

Why Use Alternative Paper for Printing?  

Paper will never be out of style. No matter how long or advanced systems become, paper will always be something people will use for their workflows. Whether it’s a physical medium they’re used to working with or it’s the most legitimate way for agencies to verify important documents (birth certificates, licenses, etc.), paper will always be a mainstay.  

However, with paper products being a constant in the industry, paper waste is inevitable. According to a study conducted by the American Forest and Paper Association in 2021, 32% of disposed paper is still not recycled and ends up contributing to ongoing environmental issues.  

Introducing Alternative Papers

Thankfully, alternative solutions to traditional paper consumption exist. There are many substitutes for common paper, most of which are compatible with copiers and printers.

But, why make the switch in the first place?

With the use of alternative printing papers, companies can keep their businesses’ carbon footprint in balance all while maintaining a balanced-budget approach to their costs.

By also utilizing alternative papers for printing, not only are you reducing waste that goes into landfills by thousands of cubic yards; subsequently, bringing down methane gas and CO2 emissions. But, in the growing market for greener solutions, an increasing number of businesses have started to provide price-competitive printer paper alternatives. Making it a lot easier to acquire sustainable paper options without going over your company’s allocated budget. 

In addition, utilizing alternative pages also provides positive brand promotion. In the saturated copy and print market, sustainability is becoming an important factor for client partnerships. More and more clients are looking for eco-friendly partners in their line of work. By providing business leaders with green solutions, not only are you letting them know that you’re ahead of the curve, but you’re also letting them know about your company values.

Better Alternatives for Printing Paper  

There are a lot of paper alternatives that you could use for your business, but in an effort to expedite your research, we’ve compiled a list of possible paper alternatives that can serve your printing needs.

Recycled Paper  

Recycled paper is the go-to option for sustainable-focused offices, and for good reason.  Recycled paper is post-consumer paper waste that’s been repurposed and re-created to serve printing needs. Paper waste, in this instance, is paper like old newspapers, pamphlets, documents, and prints, that were used by the consumer. It’s then collected, broken down for its fibers, treated, and repurposed to be usable paper once again. It’s essentially giving paper another shot at life. 

Opting for this paper reduces the energy and water consumption of paper factories and lessens the production of greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, recycled paper can be used for printing and copying needs. But, just like how you’re supposed to use different types of traditional paper for specific uses—for example, using laser printer paper for laser printers, the type of recycled paper also matters for the best quality and jam-free outputs. 

Nevertheless, if you pick the appropriate thickness and fiber percentage suited for your printer or copier, you’ll see that there is almost no difference between traditional paper and recycled paper when it comes to quality and production process.   

Sugar Cane Paper  

The second alternative paper choice is Sugar Cane Paper. Much like recycled paper, sugar cane paper is a byproduct of another material —sugar. When sugar is made, the sugar cane is squeezed for its juice. When the juice is fully extracted, an excess fiber called bagasse is left. This bagasse is then collected, processed into a pulp, and pressed to become sugar cane paper.  

Sugar cane paper provides an overall holistic and eco-friendly approach to paper production. It makes sure that no part of the sugar cane is left behind. From using its juices to create sugar to using its fibers to create pages for print— almost all of it gets used for a purpose.  

The best part is that sugarcane paper does not rely on trees. Meaning that by adapting sugar cane paper, you’re sparing trees from destruction on the get-go. Furthermore, not only are you saving trees, but you’re also ensuring quality prints. Since sugar cane paper has risen in popularity, there are a lot of suppliers that provide multipurpose sugar cane paper that can be used safely for print shop needs. Moreover, as sugar cane papers are indistinguishable from traditional paper, you’re guaranteed to receive almost the same printing results.  

Bamboo Paper  

Bamboo has a reputable legacy in history and the existence of printing presses. Like other papers mentioned in this list, bamboo follows almost the same paper manufacturing process. Once the plant is cut down, its oils are removed before the fibers can be churned and pressed into paper.

Bamboo paper provides an eco-friendly approach to printing since, much like sugar cane, bamboo paper requires no trees for production. In addition, unlike trees, which take approximately 30 years to reach maturity, bamboo only needs 3 years at its earliest. Coupling that with the fact that it can grow 20 feet a week, it makes harvesting it for paper a much more efficient process.

In print production, bamboo can be used for your print shop needs. However, much like recycled paper, the fiber percentage matters. Since bamboo has longer and stronger fibers compared to wood fibers, it’s essential to figure out what fiber percentage is best suited for your business needs for a smooth operation. Even so, once you’ve found the fiber percentage that works for your printers or copiers, you will have an easy time printing and copying with it, plus a diverse bamboo paper market to choose from.  

There are a lot of nuances that businesses want to look into when looking for the best eco-friendly paper to use. We know how tedious this process can be, which is why we’re more than willing to sift through all the different substitutes to make sure you get the best paper for your business.

Contact us so we can start your path to paper sustainability!


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