Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Green term of the week: pre and post consumer waste

Last week, I wrote a tiny little rant about my 100% recycled tissues being made from 80% post-consumer waste, and I wondered what the other 20% was recycled from. Despairing from the Suitably Despairing blog, wrote in the comment section that the other 20% probably came from pre-consumer waste. What's the difference?

Post-consumer waste is from products that have been used and then put back into the recycling stream. As far as paper products go, this could be newspapers, magazines, junk mail - any paper that has been used.

Pre-consumer waste is reintroduction of manufacturing scrap back into the manufacturing process. When paper gets trimmed during the manufacturing process, the ends that are cut off can be recycled and made into new paper products.

So my 100% recycled tissues came from 80% used recycled materials (but hopefully not used tissues) and most likely the other 20% was recycled manufacturing scraps. That makes sense.

The terms post-consumer and pre-consumer waste don't just refer to paper products. Any products that are made from recycled materials can contain both types of waste.
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