Choosing recycled paper for printing

When it comes to printing a project, whether it be a business card, a poster or a publication, there are a lot of paper options out there.

I have noticed an increase of interest in recycled paper stocks, but there’s a little bit of a gap in knowledge about what recycled paper looks like, and what the limitations are.

It’s quite a mixture of pre-conceived expectations that clients have about recycled stock too – it’s not just one thing. The top expectations are:

  • Recycled stocks should have a particular “recycled” look about them.
    Many clients have been surprised to find that recycled paper stock these days can look quite refined and smooth.
  • Brown paper must have a higher environmental rating than white paper.
    This sounds logical in theory, but in practice it is not always the case. As an example, Buffalo Kraft (which is brown) uses 18% recycled fibres, whereas Cyclus (which is white) uses 100% recycled fibres. Looks can be deceiving!
  • There should be a laminated option for recycled stock.
    This one floors me. Laminating, whether gloss or matte, is the application of a plastic film across a paper product. The plastic film used in laminating is non-recyclable, which would make a brochure printed on recycled stock with a laminate coating a contradiction.

I spend a great amount of time helping clients through the paper selection process, and make sure they understand the paper’s specifications, especially when choosing a recycled stock is of importance to them, their business and their project. It’s worth spending that little bit of time at the start to choose the right type of paper.