Saturday, April 4, 2009

you have got to be kidding me!

At work the other day I found the printer out of paper. No problem, even I can solve this printer paper dilemma without having a plastic emergency, right? Apparently not. Off I went to the work room and ta-da I found Recycled Husky Xerocopy Paper in abundance. This paper's positive environmental characteristics include: SFI Fiber Sourcing Certified, paper contains 30% recycled fiber, and it is manufactured under alkaline (acid-free) conditions. I was unwrapping the ream of paper on my way back to the printer and stopped dead in my tracks. The ream of 30% recycled paper looked to be wrapped in just another piece of recycled paper but NO. It was wrapped in a piece of paper coated with polyethylene! Plasticy smooth on one side and papery smooth on the other side. Yes, polyethylene is a kind of plastic. This is what Wikipedia has to say about polyethylene's negative environmental characteristics: "The wide use of polyethylene makes it an important environmental issue. Though it can be recycled, most of the commercial polyethylene ends up in landfills and in the oceans (notably the Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Polyethylene is not considered biodegradable, as it takes several centuries until it is efficiently degraded."

Why? Why I ask you is polyethylene needed to protect this ream of paper? A ream of paper that is touting environmental consciousness at that. The polyethylene coating on the copy paper wrapper is so unnecessary. So unnecessary and so wrong. Polyethylene coatings are on so many cups, milk cartons, ice cream containers, postcards...mostly everything that looks like paper that you put liquid in and doesn't leak. Enough already. We do not need to plasticify everything! Grrrr.


Anonymous said...

Hi. I checked out the links in your article and I didn't see anything about polyethylene. I'm just wondering how you know for sure that it was polyethylene and not something else making it shiny. Did you call the company?

plasticfreela said...

Hey Beth,
I have looked all over their website for information about the ream paper wrapper but only found info on the actual paper (which of courses is just wood pulp no coating of any kind). There is no information that I can find about the paper that encases the whole ream of paper. I left a message for a sales rep but never heard back...
I can't guarantee it's polyethylene, but it seems to be from my experience with the shiny smooth any rate it is some sort of polymer that makes the ream paper wrapper no longer just paper. What do you think the shiny smooth waterproof coating could be? There is a small chance it's wax but I scratched at it and it didn't scratch away at all like wax does.

P.S. Love your new video cataloging your plastic consumption over the last three years.

Anonymous said...

Here is an article that says paper coatings are made from clay:

This one uses calcium carbonate:

So, I'm not saying yours isn't polyethylene, but I've just learned from experience that we have to be sure before saying what something is.

plasticfreela said...

Great articles-thanx Beth!