Definitions, Specifications, and Other Guidance
Postconsumer fiber means:
- Paper, paperboard, and fibrous wastes from retail stores, office buildings, homes, and so forth, after they have passed through their end-usage as a consumer item, including: used corrugated boxes; old newspapers; old magazines; mixed waste paper; tabulating cards; and used cordage; and
- All paper, paperboard, and fibrous wastes that enter and are collected from municipal solid waste.
- Postconsumer fiber does not include fiber derived from printers' over-runs, converters' scrap, and over-issue publications.
Recovered fiber means:Postconsumer fiber such as:
- Paper, paperboard, and fibrous materials from retail stores, office buildings, homes, and so forth, after they have passed through their end-usage as a consumer item, including: used corrugated boxes; old newspapers; old magazines; mixed waste paper; tabulating cards; and used cordage; and
- All paper, paperboard, and fibrous materials that enter and are collected from municipal solid waste, and
- Dry paper and paperboard waste generated after completion of the papermaking process (that is, those manufacturing operations up to and including the cutting and trimming of the paper machine reel into smaller rolls or rough sheets) including: envelope cuttings, bindery trimmings, and other paper and paperboard waste resulting from printing, cutting, forming, and other converting operations; bag, box, and carton manufacturing wastes; and butt rolls, mill wrappers, and rejected unused stock; and
- Repulped finished paper and paperboard from obsolete inventories of paper and paperboard manufacturers, merchants, wholesalers, dealers, printers, converters, or others.
Mill broke means any paper waste generated in a paper mill prior to completion of the papermaking process. It is usually returned directly to the pulping process. Mill broke is excluded from the definition of "recovered fiber." Also see "measurement" section below.
EPA recommends that procuring agencies review specifications provisions pertaining to performance and aesthetics and revise provisions that can impede use of postconsumer and recovered fiber, unless such provisions are related to reasonable performance standards. Agencies should determine whether performance provisions are unnecessarily stringent for a particular end use. Agencies also should revise aesthetics provisions-such as brightness, dirt count, or shade matching-if appropriate, consistent with the agencies' performance requirements, in order to allow for a higher use of postconsumer and recovered fiber.
EPA recommends that procuring agencies document determinations that paper products containing postconsumer and recovered fiber will not meet the agencies' reasonable performance standards. Any determination should be based on technical performance information related to a specific item, not a grade of paper or type of product.
EPA recommends that procuring agencies watch for changes in the use of postconsumer and recovered fiber in paper and paper products. When a paper or a paper product containing postconsumer and recovered fiber is produced in types and grades not previously available, at a competitive price, procuring agencies should either revise specifications to allow the use of such type or grade, or develop new specifications for such type or grade, consistent with the agencies' performance requirements.
EPA recommends that procuring agencies express their minimum content standards as a percentage of the fiber weight of the paper or paper product. EPA further recommends that procuring agencies specify that mill broke cannot be counted toward postconsumer or recovered fiber content, except that procuring agencies should permit mills to count mill broke generated in a papermaking process using postconsumer and/or recovered fiber as feedstock toward "postconsumer fiber" or "recovered fiber" content, to the extent that the feedstock contained these materials. In other words, if a mill uses less than 100% postconsumer or recovered fiber, only a proportional amount of broke can be counted towards postconsumer or recovered fiber content.
EPA recommends that procuring agencies consider the effect of a procurement of a paper product containing recovered and postconsumer fiber on their paper collection programs by assessing the impact of their decision on their overall contribution to the solid waste stream.