Frequently Asked Questions
Select a question to view the answer.
- How do the different environmental labels and schemes compare?
Some labels are specific to a single issue, such as forest certification labels (e.g. the FSC label refers to the origin of fibre and does not consider manufacture). Other labels, such as Nordic Swan, are used on product and indicate that defined production standards have been met, whereas environmental management systems (ISO14001 and EMAS) relate to the manufacturer rather than the product. Other schemes, such as Paper Profile, are designed to provide information only. See the glossary for further information on individual labels and schemes.
At a glance
Refers to the sourcing of fibre from well-managed forests:
- FSC 100%
- FSC Mixed Sources
Refers to there being a high proportion of recycled fibre:
- NAPM Recycled Mark
- Blue Angel
- FSC Recycled
Refers to environmentally responsible manufacture:
- Nordic Swan
- Blue Angel
- EU Eco-Label
Provides an overview of environmental information:
- Paper Profile
- Robert Horne’s Green Bible Sheets
- What is the Forest & Trade Network?
The WWF-UK Forest and Trade Network (FTN) is the UK arm of the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s Global Forest and Trade Network. It strives to improve forest management, link certified forest products with markets, provide support to local and indigenous forest communities and create demand for certified forest products. In short, it aims to ensure that forest products, including paper, come from responsibly managed sources.
As a member of the FTN, Robert Horne is committed to a Responsible Paper Purchasing Policy, to increasing how much is know about the origin of fibre in paper products and to ensuring that it comes from well-managed sources.
- What are WEEE and RoHS?
WEEE and RoHS are associated pieces of legislation relating to electrical and electronic equipment and the components (including casing and labels) that they are made from.
WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and requires producers of electrical and electronic equipment to finance the collection and recycling of such items. Producers are also required to provide information about how to recycle their products.
RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) require producers to restrict the use of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in electrical and electronic items. Robert Horne can provide a selection of RoHS compliant substrates.
- What are the benefits of using recycled paper?
With the growing commitment to responsible forest management, preventing trees being cut down is becoming less of a key incentive for buying recycled paper. However, it is still true that continuing demand for recycled fibre products will relieve pressure on the world’s forest resources.
Today the main reason for buying recycled is to generate demand for waste paper that would otherwise go to landfill sites where it would break down and release methane and carbon dioxide, both greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Generally, the production of recycled pulp has less environmental impact than producing virgin fibre pulp. Making recycled pulp produces less air pollution and most types of emissions to water are less. Recycled pulp production usually requires less water and less energy (although virgin pulp production can be energy self sufficient by incinerating wood by-products such as bark).
Contrary to some beliefs, the ink is not bleached out of the fibre but is removed by soaps. So, it’s not true that the amount of bleach required is more for recycled pulp.
The actual papermaking process will be the same whether the pulp contains virgin or recycled fibre.
- What is carbon offsetting?
Businesses can reduce their carbon emissions (and so help to reduce climate change) through energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy sources. The remaining emissions of CO2 or equivalent can be calculated and the business can pay to ‘offset’ these emissions by planting trees (which will absorb an equivalent amount of carbon) or by investing in energy-efficient technologies, often in developing countries (which will reduce the carbon emissions of others by the appropriate amount).
Carbon offsetting is not in itself a solution to climate change and it is sometimes criticised for masking the underlying problem of excessive energy consumption. Therefore to be credible, carbon offsetting should be part of a comprehensive energy policy that has a focus on energy efficiency.
A growing number of companies are becoming carbon neutral (at least in part), including HSBC, Sky, Barclays Bank, BT, Avis, Honda and O2.
- Which plastic has the best environmental credentials?
All plastics have environmental impacts in terms of raw material use, energy use, emissions and waste from manufacture and potential difficulties in disposal of the end of life product. Positive aspects are the longevity of plastic products, versatility and cost effectiveness, the social or health benefits (e.g. blood bags and cling film), lighter packaging and the possibility of recycling.
There are few objective sources of information about the environmental attributes of plastics. Some environmental groups have raised particular concerns about PVC, although these are disputed by the industry. Degradable plastics are not yet commercially viable for most uses and there are concerns that growing crops for use in plastics may not be an appropriate use of land. For some applications (such as point of sale displays), paper-based products are becoming popular alternatives, as they are predominantly made from renewable resources and relatively easy to recycle.
When making a choice of material it can be useful to take a holistic view and consider issues such as the environmental impact of the substrate and how easily it can be recycled, efficient design and production of the job, the technical requirements of the application and the commercial considerations.
- What is PEFC?
PEFC stands for the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes and is an international, non-profit organisation that is primarily made up of representatives of the forest products industry. Unlike the FSC, it does not set specific standards but is an umbrella brand that incorporates different national forest certification schemes (e.g. the national scheme in Finland is endorsed by the PEFC). This is intended to make the forest certification easier and more applicable to different types of forests. While it continues to make improvements, the PEFC scheme is still sometimes criticised by environmental groups for being too variable from country to country and not always addressing conservation and social issues satisfactorily. PEFC certified products have therefore been less in demand from end-users than FSC certified grades.
However, Robert Horne supports the principle of forest certification, and as some suppliers want to bring PEFC labelled products to market, we have achieved PEFC Chain of Custody.
- Can I use the FSC logo?
To use the FSC logo (or make any reference to FSC) on a printed job, an FSC certified paper must be used and the supply chain – e.g. paper mill, merchant and printer – must all have FSC Chain of Custody certification.
There are three distinct types of labels featuring the FSC logo (FSC 100%, FSC Mixed Sources and FSC Recycled), the selection of which will depend on the paper being used.
Robert Horne can provide a choice of FSC certified papers and there are a growing number of printers that are certified to use the logo.
- What is Chain of Custody?
Chain of Custody (CoC) is the means of tracing a paper product up through the supply chain back to the fibre source. It includes all the operations that take physical or legal ownership of the paper or physically alter it (with the possible exception of retailers and the end user).
This means that in practice, a product that bares a forest certification logo (such as FSC or PEFC) can be tracked through every link in the chain, so that buyers can be guaranteed that the fibre originated from a forest managed according to the relevant forest management standards.
In order for printers to get CoC, an independent assessor will visit and check the printer’s ability to prevent certified paper becoming mixed up with unapproved material. They will want to look at documentation and records relating to certified material bought and sold and will also examine the handling of incoming material, how it is processed and how it is dispatched. In particular, they will be investigating ‘critical control points’ where there is the greatest risk of material becoming mixed. The FSC and PEFC schemes require separate CoC certification but it is possible to be audited for both at the same time.
- Does Robert Horne's paper come from sustainable forests?
The short answer is yes; the forests are sustainable, in the economic sense, as they are managed with trees being replanted to replace those cut down. However, there is now a greater understanding that a truly ‘sustainable’ forest requires consideration for much broader environmental and social (as well as economic) factors. Defining exactly what these factors should be and properly evaluating them is a complex task requiring considerable expertise.
The problem with the term ‘sustainable forests’ is that it is not always clear what this means or how such a claim can be proven. To avoid any confusion, Robert Horne has phased out the use of the term in product information.
To try to ensure that products originate from well-managed sources, Robert Horne has developed a stringent Responsible Paper Purchasing Policy (publicly available on the website) and is working towards achieving targets agreed with WWF. To meet these targets extensive evaluation of suppliers and their products is undertaken.