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What’s The Difference Between FSC Certified Paper and Recycled Paper?

July 7, 2016

We’ve often been asked about what FSC Certified paper versus recycled paper is, so here are a few key points on the topic:


FSC stands for “Forest Stewardship Council.” They are a third party certification organization that assess those who manage the care of forests.


  • Monitor the care of a forest and compliance with federal law and international agreements relating to the rights of indigenous peoples, enhancing the long-term social and economic well-being of workers and surrounding communities;
  • Care about conserving the biological diversity, water, soil and ecosystems surrounding the forest.
  • Requires a management plan, so that the scale and intensity of logging and renewal operations are carefully monitored so that the trees that are cut down are being replanted.

If all the criteria of the FSC are met by the management of the forest, then the forest will receive an FSC Certification – and paper made from wood taken from FSC certified trees is given the FSC Certification.

FSC Certified paper does NOT have anything to do with the paper being recycled, but simply that it was derived from trees from a well-managed forest.

Recycled Paper

Recycled paper is made from either 100% discarded (post-consumer) paper, or a mix of post-consumer and pre-consumer paper (paper that is discarded during the paper-making process, but never gets used by consumers), or a mix of post-consumer and either FSC Certified or just regular, noncertified paper.

There’s been a lot of debate about which one is better to use – recycled or FSC certified. Paper made directly from trees still requires the trees be cut down, (although they are replanted). Large tractors and logging machinery are used, adding pollution and noise to the surrounding environments, as well as chemicals and water waste used in the paper-making process.

On the other hand, chemicals are still used in the making of recycled paper, because the fibers have to be broken down and de-inked (although most recycled papers no longer use toxic bleach in the de-inking process). So it’s really up to you to choose which one makes more sense for your organization…and budget!

So, if you want to impress your stakeholders and hand them an FSC certified or recycled material brochure, just let us know and we’ll guide you to the right solution. Contact us today (at 212.777.2044 or at for more information. We can’t wait to help!