Vermont Seeks to Reduce Paper Use

Vermont - In 1997 the State of Vermont made the commitment to purchase only processed chlorine free (PCF) paper for printing and copying purposes. This bold environmental move did not come without a cost. The Rolland New Life DP100 paper costs 18% more than an elemental chlorine free sheet. It was believed that this price differential could be compensated for through source reduction.

The paperless office, however, is an elusive myth. The computer age was supposed to usher in a paper-free society. To the contrary, it seems to have ushered in an era of unprecedented paper consumption. The United States consumed 99 million tons of paper in 1997, or about 740 pounds per American. The U.S., with five percent of the world's population, consumes 30% of the world's paper.

In the first year, after the introduction of the PCF paper, the state used 20% more and by the second year, the total usage was up by 37%. To address this escalating use of paper, the Clean State Council created the Governor's Paper Reduction Challenge.

Sixteen hundred employees, representing 45 divisions within state government, have enrolled in a six month challenge to reduce their paper usage against their previous year's usage. A website with tips and a feature for eliciting new suggestions is part of the Clean State Council website.

In addition to the environmental virtues that everyone benefits from, personal incentives include a Vermont State Park day pass for two and a commuter mug for each state employee who participates. The division that decreases their paper consumption the most will receive a framed print donated by Fish & Wildlife and the money that was saved due to their conservation efforts. The money can be used at the winning division's discretion including an office function or as employee bonuses.

Reprinted with permission from the Northeast Recycling Council's October online newsletter.

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