Originally published in Interiors & Sources

01/24/2014

7 Sustainable Options for Disposable Paper Products

A guide to eco-friendly purchasing policies

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4) Alternative Fibers
To conserve virgin timber, a new generation of plant materials is finding its way into disposable items.

“These alternative fibers come from bio-based sources such as bamboo, wheat, and sugar cane,” explains Garrett Gerst, senior marketing facility solutions for Unisource Worldwide, a supplier of paper, facility, and packaging products. “Companies are also turning to rapidly renewable sources like acacia and eucalyptus trees, which can be harvested in less than 10 years.”

5) Green Certifications
A third-party certification can validate claims of responsible forestry practices, chain of custody, and lifecycle standards, says Balek. Common certifications include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), ECOLOGO, and Green Seal.

6) Dispenser Efficiency
It’s too easy for users to blindly grab a wad of towels, so choose dispensers that encourage conservation.

Side-by-side toilet paper rolls, for example, can ensure partial rolls aren’t being thrown away, says Buckley. Folded towels can easily fall out of the dispenser and don’t offer any use restrictions. Use a dispenser with automated portion control or manual pull with a single release.

7) Packaging and Transportation
To get a complete and accurate picture of a product’s environmental impacts, it’s imperative to evaluate supply chain management, stresses Joan Monaco, development director with Ecoform, an environmental consulting firm.

It can be difficult to quantify the environmental impacts from shipping, so focus on packaging materials and how they affect your waste management practices.

“Several companies are now moving towards polyethylene bags over corrugated boxes,” Gerst explains. “The result has generally been better load efficiencies for transportation and less packaging volume.”

Switching to environmentally preferable paper products can ultimately improve your operations. Reduced waste and efficient product consumption can translate to lower purchasing costs, tipping fees, and labor needs – a home run for the environment and a win for your budget.

Jennie Morton is senior editor of BUILDINGS.

 


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