The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) has released a new version of the Paper Calculator – which appears on millions of pieces of paper products from companies including Office Depot, Sprint and Starbucks — to better assist paper buyers with measuring the environmental impact of their paper usage.
More than 50,000 users every year use the free paper life-cycle estimator, according to EPN, which says the improvements make the calculator easier to use, and include updated industry data.
EPN says version 3.2 more completely captures the life-cycle water use of both recycled and virgin fiber based on consultation with industry associations and life-cycle experts. In additional to calculating the environmental savings of both post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content, the latest version features updated national average data on mill performance, and decomposition rates for each of the paper grades.
The Environmental Defense Fund developed the original Paper Calculator, and in 2011 transferred it to EPN, a group founded to support socially and environmentally sustainable changes in the pulp and paper industry. EPN’s members, more than 100 nonprofits worldwide, include Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation and WWF.
EPN has also introduced a Power User premium sponsorship program, which offers additional features and technical support. Power Users help offset the costs of maintaining the Paper Calculator as a free tool. The program’s inaugural members include Staples, New Leaf Paper, FutureMark Paper, Office Depot, Hemlock Printers, GreenerPrinter.com, Computershare and Friesens Corporation.
In 2011 the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced goals to increase the paper recycling rate to more than 70 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 15 percent by 2020. EPN said the goals were a good start, but didn’t go enough in addressing the industry’s “massive footprint.”
According to AF&PA’s 2012 sustainability report, the amount of paper consumed in the United States in 2011 that was subsequently recovered and recycled increased 5.3 percent between 2009 and 2011.