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Recycled paper gets high marks for low eco impact in use for publication-grade paper in magazines

Using recycled paper instead of virgin fiber for magazine paper offers strong environmental benefits, finds a new study involving National Geographic, Green America, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and other groups.

The study, based on a comprehensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) of recycled fiber, has led National Geographic to consider using recycled paper for its publications.

“The information gleaned [from the LCA report] will further inform our own paper manufacturing purchasing practices, which are developed around the criteria of quality, performance, availability, affordability and environmental impact,” said National Geographic Chief Sustainability Officer Hans Wegner in a statement.

The LCA evaluated CO2-equivalent emissions, carcinogenicity, eutrophication, wood use, and other elements. The study “debunks any myths promoted by magazine and paper industries that question the environmental benefits of using recycled fiber in publication-grade paper,” according to a press release by Green America.

The production of magazine paper in the United States generates the equivalent of over 7.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“This study confirms that the best way for publishers to reduce the environmental impact associated with the paper they buy is to increase recycled content,” said Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We hope that National Geographic, as one of the nation’s top producers of nature publications, takes immediate steps to incorporate the highest recycled content into their magazine and other paper purchases, and sets goals for continued improvement in its paper attributes over time.”

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