ecosystem glossary

Essential Terms

Ingredients > ecosystem Data > Eco Terms

A - E  |  F - L  |  M - R  |  S - Z

paper making

A - E

Agricultural By-Product: Agricultural by-products are fibrous byproducts of agriculture, such as cereal straws and corn stalks, which have previously been treated as a waste stream. These materials are routinely burned or flooded from fields, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of a valuable resource and damaging the environment. Using agricultural byproducts means turning a waste stream into a resource and New Leaf is actively researching the ability to use them.

Ancient-Forest Friendly: Accreditation given to paper manufactured with a high percentage of post-consumer waste and that does not contain any virgin fiber from old-growth, ancient or endangered forests.

Bio Gas Energy: Certification signifying that the energy used to manufacture the paper was created from the decomposition of waste.

Biodegradable: material that can be naturally broken down by water, air, and soil into organic components that typically do not harm the earth or contaminate the water.

Chlorine Gas Bleaching Process: This bleaching process is the most harmful for the environment and is largely responsible for the release of dioxins into the environment.

Chlorine-Free Paper: Paper that is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives.

Chlorine Free Paper Consortium: The Consortium is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to environmentally sound paper making.

Conservatree: Presents cutting-edge information on recycled, tree-free and chlorine-free printing and writing papers. Several articles, reports, newsletters, and discussions of issues can be found on the site.

De-inking: The process that removes applied inks, finishes, glues, and other contaminants from wastepaper in order to extract the cellulose fiber. Typically this requires extensive processing through a variety of pulping, screening, cleaning, washing, and/or floatation equipment.

De-inked Pre-Consumer Waste Paper: Paper that has been printed but not used by consumers, such as waste from printers and unsold magazines and publications. It is processed like post- consumer waste and is de-inked for reuse.

Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF): The bleaching process, which uses chlorine compounds to whiten the pulp. While a significantly cleaner process than chlorine gas bleaching, it still causes the formation of harmful organochlorides, which can be released into the environment.

Forest Ethics: Forest Ethics protects endangered forests by transforming the paper and wood industries in North America and by supporting forest communities in the development of conservation-based economies.

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smoke stack

F - L

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): A non-profit organization set up to encourage the use of sustainable practices in forestry worldwide. This organization provides certification for products that are made with recycled fiber or virgin fiber from responsibly managed forests.

Fossil Fuels: natural substances that have been made deep within the earth from the remains of ancient plants and animals. Over time, heat and pressure turned these decomposing remains into fuels, which release energy when burned. Coal, oil, and natural gas are the three main fossil fuels. Fossil fuels supply 90% of the world's energy for various things like electricity, powering cars, and heating homes. Because fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy, our dependence on them has led to overuse and depletion. Additionally, fossil fuels must be burned to release the stored energy subsequently releasing a variety of greenhouse gasses and pollution into the atmosphere, which leads to global climate change.

Green-E: Certification given to products manufactured or off-set using renewable energy.

Global Warming: rising temperatures due to excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Greenhouse Gasses: Gasses, including water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, and methane, are present in the atmosphere and reduce the loss of heat into space—making them critical to our planet which would be too cold to sustain life without them. Because of activities like deforestation, burning of natural gas and oil, landfills, and the release of fumes from factories-the process by which greenhouse gasses becomes accelerated creating more gases in the atmosphere than necessary to warm the planet.

Landfill: an open hole in the ground for trash, designed to prevent waste from mixing with groundwater and to reduce odor. Many landfills use a thick plastic liner between the ground and the trash and layers of soil added daily on top of the trash. Because of the extremely slow decomposition of the waste, and the gases released into the atmosphere by the landfills contributing to global warming, this method of waste management is considered a last resort for the disposition of discarded materials.

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M - R

Non-Wood Fiber: Also known as tree-free fiber, this refers to fiber that comes from sources other than trees, such as agricultural byproducts, kenaf, and hemp. These fiber sources are commonly used in other parts of the world, and can be cultivated here to help reduce pressure on forest lands.

Organic Cotton: cotton grown without pesticides or chemical additives to fertilizer using a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility. To be considered "organic" a crop must be, at a minimum, grown in soil that has been chemical-free for at least three years.

Pre-consumer waste: materials that have not met their intended end-use by a consumer and include allowable waste left over from manufacturing, converting, and printing processes.

Post-Consumer Waste or Post-Consumer Recycled Paper: paper produced using paper that has been used and returned through a recycling program, thereby diverting it from a landfill or incinerator. It is usually de-inked and then processed to make new paper. Office paper waste makes up the majority of post-consumer waste content that is used to make recycled copy and printing papers.

Processed Chlorine Free (PCF): Processed chlorine free refers to recycled paper in which the recycled content is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives. Dioxins and other toxins and pollutants created by chlorine and its derivatives are often referred to as chlorinated organic compounds. The dioxins have been associated with adverse affects on the immune and reproductive systems of human as well as those of fish and wildlife species.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN): Works to protect the Earth's rainforests and supports the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action.

Recycled Paper: Recycled paper can have several meanings, but the most consistent definition is derived from our federal government's guidelines. Almost all state and local government and business procurement specifications now reference the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines on recycled paper. The EPA guidelines require a minimum of 30% post-consumer content for uncoated printing and writing paper, and a minimum of 10% post-consumer content for coated papers. Other forms of paper, such as newsprint, corrugated packaging, tissue, and others, also require post-consumer content.

Rethink Paper: A non-profit environmental organization dedicated to catalyzing a transition to an ecologically sound U.S. pulp and paper industry.

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wind power

S - Z

Sustainability: The goal of using our earth's resources to meet our present needs without jeopardizing the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainably Harvested Virgin Fiber: No matter how well we recycle, the paper industry will always require some virgin fiber. Both trees and non-wood fibers can be cultivated as sustainable sources of virgin fiber, reducing the need to destroy old growth forests for paper. Additionally, the per-acre fiber yield from some non-wood virgin fibers appears to be higher than that from tree farms.

Totally Chlorine Free (TCF): This refers to virgin paper made without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives. This distinction between TCF and PCF is environmentally misleading. While TCF sounds better, PCF is more environmentally sound, since this term is reserved for recycled rather than virgin papers.

Tree-Free Fiber: Also known as non-wood fiber, this refers to fiber that comes from sources other than trees, such as agricultural byproducts, kenaf, and hemp. These fiber sources are commonly used in other parts of the world, and can be cultivated here to help reduce pressure on forest lands.

Unbleached: Unbleached paper is either gray or dyed during papermaking. This process involves the least environmental impact. Unbleached paper with post-consumer waste is often non-de-inked as well. The ink is visible in the paper in the form of tiny ink dots.

Virgin Fiber: Fiber that has never been used before in the manufacture of paper or other products.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to vaporize and enter the atmosphere. Common artificial VOCs include paint thinners, dry cleaning solvents, and gasoline. When accidentally released into the environment, VOCs can damage soil and groundwater. Escaping VOC vapors contribute to air pollution. The most common VOC, methane, is a greenhouse gas that may be released from various sources including energy use and burning wood.

Wind Certification: Accreditation verifying that energy for the manufacturing paper is sourced or offset from wind power.

Woodwise: Co-op America, a leading non-profit consumer organization, partners with other influential environmental groups to produce the Woodwise Consumer guide that includes practical tips and resources that people can use to make a difference for the environment.

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