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I've got used to the idea that very white office paper (usable for office printing for example) is always made of cropped trees while paper made of recycled materials is always grayish and so is not suitable for office printing.

Now a local retailer offers Mondi NAUTILUS® SuperWhite which is claimed to be 100% recycled premium paper with high whiteness. I suspect that I never saw white recycled paper before for a reason - perhaps it takes a lot of chemicals to whiten recycled paper and it's quite likely it takes more chemicals compared to whitening fiber made of fresh cropped trees and then perhaps extra chemicals cancel out the whole recycling positive effect.

So can this "super white 100 percent recycled" paper be greener than comparably white paper made of cropped trees?

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    i think we'd need some agreement on what constitutes "greener". as in many sustainability issues, you may be trading one aspect of green for another. – Nate Jul 22 '13 at 19:56
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Their website states that:

  • it is rated as "excellent" on the WWF Check Your Paper platform (see here)
  • it is FSC® Recycled certified
  • it is Chlorine-free bleached
  • their producing mills are ISO 14001 (environmental management) certified
  • it is CO2 neutral optional (it looks like some of their paper supports a hydro electricity project in Indonesia)

It is hard to measure how green this might be compared with new paper made from sustainable plantations, but perhaps in this case price is a reasonable measure of efficiency provided that you're comparing it with paper with a similar environmental track record. After all, it's greener to not build a hydro dam if you can just grow, manufacture, and recycle more efficiently so that carbon emissions don't need to be offset in the first place.

The WWF website referred to above has many other types of paper with a higher environmental rating. The Mondi SuperWhite rates at 90%, whereas the top brand/type rates at 98%, and there are many others higher than 90%.

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