Paper guidelines

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AASHE Member
Joined: Jun 8 2009

Appalachian State University is creating paper guidelines for print jobs that happen outside of our university, e.g., Admissions incoming freshman books. I am looking for information about paper in order to inform our guidelines. What kind of paper should we be suggesting to folks to spec on their print jobs - FSC, PCW content, etc? Also wondering about certs and/or guidelines on inks.

We also want to be sensitive to the cost and the print quality. The first iteration of our sustainability yearbook was printed on 100% PCW paper and the images were too dark due to paper absorption of the inks.

Thanks in advance for any information.

Crystal Simmons
Appalachian State University
Office of Sustainability

AASHE Member
Joined: Sep 9 2011

Hi Crystal. A few thoughts:

  1. You still have to pay attention to other printing issues with any paper. Things like color, cut, opacity, and a myriad of others. I remember the extensive testing that I went through with my first school decades ago to find a recycled content paper that ran acceptably in their machines and am sometimes dismayed by the lack of testing that sometimes goes on today. IMO, you have to make sure it runs and prints right or the recycled-content and other "green" features will be blamed (even though there is plenty of virgin paper that doesn't run right). I had another school that bought a truckload of paper without testing it first. The stuff curled up like a scroll coming out of the printer and it literally took me a decade to get them to try recycled-content paper again.

  2. I'd suggest a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content with as much of the additional content as possible being made up with recycled-content or sustainably-harvested fibers.

  3. Try to work proactively with your printing companies to ensure that your specs will run on their machines. If they know that the paper will run correctly, and they can be sure of enough orders to stock the paper they need, and know that you will listen and respond if they have legitimate issues with a particular part of your spec, I think you will find them more supportive in helping you to achieve your goals.

Hope this helps.