National Geographic Finds Using Recycled Paper Would Benefit the Environment

Adapted from a post written for Dead-Tree Edition by Green America’s Frank Locantore on behalf of our Better Paper Project. For more than a decade, Frank  has helped publishers switch to recycled paper, and today he explains a study commissioned by the National Geographic Society, which  found overwhelming environmental benefits to using paper containing recycled content.

New Life Cycle Analysis study shows that in 14 of 14 environmental impact categories studied there is an environmental benefit to using recovered fiber as a substitute for virgin tree fiber.

Recently, National Geographic Society changed course on recycled fiber, walking away from its long-held belief that using recovered fiber in its publications has negligible environmental benefit, and agreeing to explore recycled paper options. We are encouraged by National Geographic Society’s initial indication that they may begin printing on recycled paper soon. If they do so, they will join the growing list of other magazines that have been using recycled paper for a decade or more like, Fast Company, Audubon, YES!, and Ranger Rick.

In the case of National Geographic, Green America and many other NGOs encouraged the venerable publisher to re-examine its beliefs regarding recycled paper. In response, National Geographic hired an independent consultant, ENVIRON International Corporation, to determine if it made environmental sense for them to use recycled paper in their magazine. The results (shown below) clearly indicate that in 14 out of 14 environmental impact categories studied, the production of deinked pulp is environmentally superior to the production of virgin fiber pulp.


ENVIRON International Corporation was asked to answer three questions: 1) Is it better for the environment to use recovered fiber for magazines versus virgin fiber in isolation? 2) If so, can we show that it is better to use recovered fiber in an alternative product? and 3) Do supply limitations exist such that the use of recovered fiber in magazines would displace its use in an environmentally preferable alternative product? Continue reading “National Geographic Finds Using Recycled Paper Would Benefit the Environment”