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Eco-label for sustainable paper products

Eco-labels for paper - You can recognize sustainable paper products by these labels

Which environmental labels for paper actually help us to recognize sustainable paper products? Nowadays, we as consumers have to fight our way through a veritable jungle of labels if we want our sustainable lifestyle want to indulge. Many of them are protected, trustworthy and transparent - others, however, are brazen. Greenwashingwhich is merely intended to soothe our guilty conscience. Unfortunately, these challenges and problems do not stop at paper products.

In this article, I would therefore like to introduce you to seven useful eco-labels and environmental labels that you can use to recognize sustainable paper - and show you which seals you should rather not trust. Let's go!

  1. The Blue Angel
  2. EcopaPlus
  3. UWS paper
  4. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
  5. EU Ecolabel
  6. PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes)
  7. Recycling

1. the Blue Angel

Blue Angel press photo
Public press photo of "Blauer Engel" | © Mediathek

The "Blue Angel" has been the German government's environmental label for environmentally friendly products and services since 1978. In the fight for sustainable forestry and against the Deforestation of the forests this label is one of the most important features of ecological paper products.

Recycled paper is characterized by the fact that 100 percent from waste paper and guarantees compliance with ecological standards, such as chlorine-free bleaching or the consideration of pollutant limits. Both the origin of the raw materials and their further processing are taken into account when awarding the environmental seal. You can find it on exercise books, copy paper or toilet paper, for example.

2. ecopaPlus

ÖkopaPlus seal for environmentally friendly paper

The "Ökopa" and "ÖkopaPlus" eco-labels also identify paper products that made entirely from waste paper were recycled. The prerequisite for the label developed by VENCEREMOS GmbH & Co. KG in cooperation with Greenpeace is the permission to carry the "Blue Angel" label. The award-winning recycled paper is not bleached using chlorine or chlorine compounds, nor is it treated chemically in any other way. Instead, the recycled paper gets its white color from natural substances such as starch, kaolin or chalk.

3. UWS (environmental protection paper)

Extremely environmentally friendly are also the paper goods, which are equipped with the UWS seal. The "environmental protection paper" consists of 100 percent from waste paper and, unlike conventional recycled paper, is neither dyed nor bleached, which is why the shades of gray may differ slightly from time to time.

Excellent manufacturers try targeted, keep water and energy consumption and wastewater pollution as low as possible. You can recognize it by labels such as "UWS label paper", "vup", "ap", "Erdpapier" and also by the "Ökopa" seal.

4. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)

FSC seal for sustainable paper products

It is not always possible in practice to buy goods made from recycled paper. In this case, the FSC seal is definitely a good way of recognizing environmentally friendly paper. Even if products with the label "FSC Recycled" are also made from 100 percent recycled paper, there are still some evaluation standards and labels of the non-profit organization, which is based in Bonn and was founded in 1993, that do not insist on the complete use of recycled paper.

FSC is an international certification system for sustainable forest management - and the seal is accordingly awarded to wood products that come from responsibly managed forests. Great importance is attached to the origin of the products - but the use of chemicals is not taken into account. Nevertheless, it is a helpful eco-label for recognizing sustainable paper products.

5 EU Ecolabel (European Ecolabel)

EU Ecolabel Environmental label for paper

The "EU Ecolabel" (also known as the "Euroblume") was introduced in March 1992 by the European Commission and is now a recognized environmental label for paper and countless other product groups in all EU countries, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The eco-label promotes environmentally friendly paper production and use and is primarily awarded to printed products, stationery and paper carrier bag products, as well as graphic paper and hygiene paper products such as kitchen paper and toilet paper.

Bleaching with elemental chlorine is prohibited in the manufacture of award-winning products and half of all paper fibers used must come from certified forestry. The However, the use of recovered paper is mandatory for very few products - only newspapers must consist of at least 70 percent recycled paper.

6. PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes)

PEFC Ecopaper Seal

The abbreviation PEFC translates as "Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes". The independent certification system for products from socially sustainable, ecological and economical forestry was founded in 1999.

The non-profit NGO PEFC monitors the product processing chain (annual spot checks) and promotes the consistent improvement of sustainable forest management. The label is definitely one of the most important environmental labels for paper and wood products in general. However, the assessment criteria are primarily limited to the origin of the fibers - and not to the use of chemicals or limited water and energy consumption.

7. recycling

Fortunately, a new tree does not have to fall for every new sheet of paper. Paper can be recycled very oftenif it is in the sense of the correct waste separation also ends up in waste paper. In addition to the "Blue Angel" or the "ÖkopaPlus" seal, you can also recognize such paper products by the label "recycled" or "recycled paper".

You can now find recycled printer paper in any print and copy store, for example, as well as in any forward-looking online store for office supplies. With companies like the products come exclusively from sustainable forestry and are climate neutral printed and shipped. Another sign by which we consumers can identify environmentally friendly paper.

Which eco-labels are rather unsuitable for labeling sustainable paper products?

Many labels are really helpful and save us consumers the long search for ecological paper. However, some of the existing labels are rather unsuitable for certain reasons. That's why I'd like to introduce you to the labels that don't really help when buying environmentally conscious paper:

  • Oxford Acts For The PlanetWWF advises against using this label, as no independent checks are carried out.
  • Aqua Pro Natura / World Park Tropical ForestWWF advises against it, as only two criteria are included in the assessment, there are no independent checks and no recycling content is prescribed.₁
  • Chlorine-freeChlorine-free paper is of course still better than its chlorine-bleached counterpart. Nevertheless, chlorine-free paper does nothing to change the overexploitation of nature. In addition, paper is often marketed as chlorine-free that has simply been treated with other chemicals.₂
  • Wood freeWood-free does not mean that no trees had to be felled for a paper product. For "wood-free" products, only the wood pulp lignin has been removed so that the paper does not yellow so quickly. Nowadays, basically all paper is "wood-free" - so this label has no added value for our planet or for us consumers.₃

Look for trustworthy environmental seals for paper when buying

Observe eco-labels for green paper

If you want to be as sustainable as possible in your everyday life, then you should definitely give preference to paper products that have been awarded the best eco-standards. However, you should definitely be careful with paper that doesn't have an eco-label.

Only a few of the eco-labels offer an absolute guarantee - But the "Blue Angel" and the "Ökopa" seal are definitely labels that we environmentally conscious consumers can rely on. Incidentally, there are also more and more suppliers who rely exclusively on recycled paper. So you can also recognize sustainable paper products from certain brands when shopping.

Do you have any questions, additions to the seals or other tips for consumers? Then I look forward to your comment.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: In order to counteract deforestation, we should Conserving natural resources every day. How you save paper in everyday life you can find out in the linked article. Good luck!

₁ WWF Germany: No way! WWF label guide for paper products (as of 02.12.2016), available at [28.02.2022].

₂ Greenpeace e. V.: How to recognize environmentally friendly paper (as of January 2014), available at [28.02.2022].

₃ Abenteuer Regenwald e.V.: What is woodfree paper? (as of 19.07.2021), available at [28.02.2022].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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