Leave a Smaller Environmental Footprint – PC100 Paper

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Monadnock Paper Mills water power PC100

PC100 made by Monadnock Paper Mills in Bennington, New Hampshire, USA is a sound, environmental choice for quality, 100% post consumer waste recycled paper.

Wanting to know more about the manufacturing process of PC100 & how it compares to other recycled papers, we contacted Mike Barry who has been with Monadnock Paper Mills since 2003. Mike met with us at our Marlborough, Massachusetts facility to discuss responsible fiber sourcing and their commitment to protecting the environment.

Here is a transcript of our conversation:

What sets PC100 apart from other recycled papers?

We manufacture PC100 with 100% post consumer recycled fiber and we only use the highest quality post consumer waste fiber available.

In the waste stream, there are different qualities of post consumer fiber. The company we use to source our post consumer fiber sorts the waste according to its origins. For our purpose, most of the fiber, if not all, is sourced from paper used in office copy machines so it’s quite bright to begin with. The paper is de-inked, the toner removed, and we end up with a very bright white, very clean, 100% post consumer recycled paper.

You’ve just described high quality fiber reclaimed for PC100 production, but what about an example of lower quality fiber?

In terms of brightness and dirt count, the fiber used to make corrugated and chipboard would be an example of lower quality.

For those that might not be aware of the difference, can you clarify recycled paper vs. post consumer recycled paper?

Reclaiming fiber that otherwise would have gone to the landfill

There are distinct differences between the two. Let me give you an example of recycled paper. A paper mill, for example, could make too much of a particular grade of paper and keep the overage in the plant. They could then turn that back into paper again and call it recycled.

A second example is an envelope manufacturer that die cuts envelopes out of a sheet of paper. All the cutoff can be used to make recycled paper.

In both of these examples, the product never went into the marketplace. It never got to the consumer.

Post consumer makes a much stronger statement about reclaiming fiber that otherwise would have gone to the landfill versus “recycled” fiber which is simply an industrial byproduct that is being remade back into paper. And that’s the important distinction between post consumer recycled fiber and recycled fiber.

What else makes PC100 environmentally friendly paper?

What makes Astrolite PC 100 a sustainable product goes beyond the fact that it is manufactured with post consumer waste. In fact, there are many other attributes you should know about when it comes to 1) buying paper, and 2) concern about the paper’s impact on the environment.

You would certainly start with the source of the fiber before it becomes paper. Is the fiber source FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative)? These two organizations certify if woodlands are being sustainably managed.

A lot of people wonder, can you actually get post consumer waste that is FSC certified?

The answer is yes you can. In addition to the certification of virgin fiber (fiber made from trees), there is also a certification for post consumer recycled fiber. Monadnock only uses this type of fiber in the production of PC 100.

All of our electrical energy comes from renewable resources

When investigating environmentally friendly papers, what other questions should paper shoppers ask?

An important question to ask would be,

Where is the paper manufactured and what are the manufacturing practices of the mill?

Meaning you can buy post consumer waste to make recycled paper, but what if the paper is not produced in an environmentally responsible way?

In the case of Monadnock, we have one of the strongest environmental programs in the industry. For example, all of our electrical energy comes from renewable resources. In our case it’s a combination of water power which we produce on site and wind power that we buy from our public utility in the form of wind power credits.

We’ve also invested in third party certified carbon offset credits so that we’re a carbon neutral manufacturing facility. That is another way that companies can make an investment in being environmentally sustaining.

The treatment of water—how the mill treats their water and what quality of water are they returning to the watershed are important considerations.

All of these factors are important and we have ongoing programs for each. For example, we are the only manufacturer of our type that has earned ISO 14001 certification. The ISO (International Standards Organization) is an international organization that offers a certification program in manufacturing processes and environmental sustainability.

Would you say the general public probably knows less about ISO than FSC?

Think about a total picture. Is it being made in a sustainable way while protecting the environment?

No doubt about it. If they have heard of ISO, they’re more familiar with the 9000, 9001, 9002 certification which is all about manufacturing practices and policies where the 14001 is about environmental management.

So when you’re thinking about promoting products that are environmental, think about it beyond the content of the paper. Think about a total picture. Is it being made in a sustainable way while protecting the environment? These are as important as the paper itself.

What about the actual paper quality and color? Recycled paper is known for having specks on the finish.

As I mentioned, PC100 uses high quality fiber so it’s quite bright to begin with. It’s very clean and has a very low, what we call “dirt count”—those specks that you mentioned. You will see some; it’s the nature of the product. Little tiny pieces of toner that don’t get totally removed could show up in the sheet. But on average, we make the very cleanest, brightest recycled fiber in the market.

In terms of other attributes? Well, the shade of the paper is a blue white shade. It has a little bit of fluorescence in the sheet which gives it that nice bright white appearance.

But you don’t actually see a blue tone.

Correct. When we talk about paper having a blue white shade, we are talking about where the paper falls in range of whites. Papers that are described as blue white tend to look brighter and whiter to the eye, but they are still white.

The formation of the sheet is also critical. That is, how well and evenly made is the paper? When you look at a sheet of paper up through a light source like a window, does it look even to you or does it look what we call “modally”—cloudy. If it looks even, it’s a well made sheet of paper and it will print well.

The formation of the sheet is also critical. That is, how well and evenly made is the paper?

Touch is another thing. One thing about uncoated post consumer paper is that it has a tactile sense to it. It’s warm and inviting. Uncoated paper gives you those benefits.

Many of our customers use our papers for printing their most important keepsakes like wedding invitations. How would you address their need for paper that will last a very long time?

Our papers are archival. They’re calcium carbonate buffered which means that they will meet decades of extended storage. They won’t yellow, particularly if not exposed to high ultraviolet light source.


We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Mike Barry. We learned a great deal about what makes PC100 a sustainable choice in paper and Monadnock Paper Mill’s sound environmental practices. If you have any questions about PC100 and the way it is manufactured, post a comment.

Want to learn more about Monadnock Paper Mills? Listen to our audio interview with Geoff Verney, VP of Strategic Customer Relations & Corporate Communications.

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