In 2019, the United States Postal Service sent nearly 143 billion pieces of mail to 160 million addresses in the US. A single tree produces, on average, 80,500 pieces of paper. If these products are made from all new, non-recycled materials an estimated 2.66 million trees must be cut down every year, to be turned into paper products like letters, envelopes, and postcards. Thankfully, there are several sustainability measures within the print industry that help save valuable forest resources.
One of the most common and effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of mail is to use paper supplies that have a significant percentage of post-consumer waste (PCW) material. PCW material is a mixture of pulp and fiber that comes from paper products like old posters, copier paper, thank you cards, or pamphlets, that have been recycled— any time you place a piece of paper in a recycling bin, it goes on to live a second life as PCW material! Paper made from recycled fiber generally has anywhere from 10% to 100% of its pulp made from PCW material. While paper with higher percentages of PCW material have historically been more expensive, ongoing improvements to the recycling process have brought these costs down, and the environmental benefits of using recycled materials speak for themselves.
As a major service provider in the print industry, Lob is always taking steps to reduce our own environmental impact and implement more sustainable business practices that help maintain valuable natural resources. Back in 2018, Lob launched a reforestation program in partnership with the Eden Reforestation Projects. By partnering with Eden Reforestation Projects, Lob is able to plant two trees for every tree we use in the production of our print and mail products (letters, postcards, or checks), as a means of neutralizing our environmental impact.
However, as our business grows, so does the need to evolve our sustainability practices. To that end, on July 1st Lob will be taking a decisive step by requiring all of our commercial printers to use letter and postcard paper that has between 10% and 100% PCW material, in addition to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification we mandate today.
Lob is able to incorporate important green and eco-friendly initiatives without any increase in cost or changes in the quality that you’ve come to expect out of our print and mail products. By leveraging our vast commercial printer network to source a variety of PCW-compliant papers, we are able to access a nationwide network of paper suppliers that can provide the best environmental paper at no additional cost. We are uniquely situated to make sustainability improvements towards how the print and mail industry operates, and we view this as a responsibility and opportunity to create a more eco-friendly system.
We are feeling energized by the strong positive feedback we’ve already received from our customers about this program. Above all else. 2020 has highlighted that we are all in this together. We are currently in a race against climate change and our actions today, both as individuals and organizations, are critical in defining the future of our planet. Here at Lob we are proud to be taking further steps to support a more circular economy and responsible consumption.