It depends on the paper and the manufacturer. In general, about half the paper made today comes from recycled materials. Nowadays a lot of paper you buy in the store will advertise itself with a recycling symbol or even a statement such as “35% post-consumer content.” These symbols and slogans can be misleading, however. A light-colored recycling symbol, such as this:
means only that the paper is recyclable–meaning, it is capable of being recycled. Well, sure, almost all paper is capable of being recycled! Much more helpful is a darkened recycling symbol like this one:
This means that the paper actually contains at least some post-consumer material, meaning, it’s made from pulp generated in part by previously used paper such as office copy paper, newsprint, magazines etc. Often the manufacturer will say exactly what percentage is post-consumer material, and technically if it doesn’t but still uses this symbol, that’s supposed to mean that it’s 100% post-consumer material (which is pretty rare). However, policing of the use of these symbols is somewhat erratic.
If you really want to be conscientious, look for paper that is Forest Stewardship Council certified. This means that the wood that goes into the paper comes from forests that practice responsible forestry, as certified by the FSC, and usually the paper will say what percentage of its content comes from such a source. If you’ve got, for example, 60% post-consumer material and 40% FSC certified, you can at least be confident that what isn’t recycled in the paper is at least being harvested according to sustainable practices.
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