California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Paper Information and Resources

Paper Waste Prevention

Paper waste prevention is the practice of reducing or eliminating paper use so that the potential for paper to be used inefficiently or disposed is prevented in the first place. Printing paper on both sides of the sheet—rather than on one side—is a classic example of paper waste prevention, as it can reduce the need for paper by up to 50 percent.

Prevention is the most environmentally preferable means to reduce paper waste. Even if all paper was recycled, there would still be a need for paper to be made from virgin resources, as individual paper fibers can only be recycled a finite number of times (generally 5-10). Paper waste prevention reduces the environmental impacts associated with both paper manufacture (including the demands on our forest resources) and paper recycling.

CalRecycle Web Sites

Office Paper Reduction: This site contains a collection of information, materials and resources for office-based businesses to use in programs aimed at reducing office paper waste—through both prevention (reducing paper use) and recovery/recycling. Five sections of resources help businesses implement a comprehensive in-house paper reduction campaign. A business can create a customized office paper reduction campaign "kit" by mixing and matching the materials.

Waste Prevention World: This site is about doing more with less. It's about resource efficiency and rethinking your daily activities so that you can consume fewer materials and generate less waste. The site includes:

  • Waste Prevention Information Exchange—The information exchange is a collection of electronic and printed informational resources provided or produced by the CalRecycle. You can use the Info Exchange to learn from others and share your successes.
  • You Can Reduce Unwanted Mail—A page about reducing junk mail, with several tips about how you can accomplish this.

Packaging Waste Reduction: The Shipping and Distribution Partnership is a voluntary program to encourage businesses to adopt more efficient packaging and merchandise distribution systems. The goals of the program are to prevent waste, increase recycling, and increase the manufacture and purchase of packaging with recycled content. Practices that achieve these goals can save businesses money and reduce the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills.

CalMAX (California Materials Exchange Program): CalMAX is an online resource that helps match businesses, individuals, and schools possessing surplus materials (including paper) with those that can use or recycle those materials.

Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP): WRAP provides an opportunity for California businesses to gain public recognition for their outstanding waste prevention and other waste reduction achievements. Successful applicants receive a certificate from CalRecycle along with a camera-ready WRAP emblem. Winners can use the emblem as they wish—on products, advertising, and promotional materials. Many WRAP winners have won their awards for their paper waste prevention an reduction efforts.

Other Web Sites

Bay Area Paperless Outreach Campaign: This site provides information on how Reducing paper waste will make (San Francisco Bay Area) businesses more efficient and competitive, and will contribute to a better environment for Bay Area communities. The campaign is sponsored by the County of Santa Clara, in cooperation with the County of San Francisco, the County of San Mateo, the cities of Fremont, Millbrae, Oakland, San Ramon, and the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority.

Cutting Paper: This site, hosted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, provides practical information about how to reduce the amount of office paper you use. It is developed and maintained by Bruce Nordman, one of the nation's foremost paper waste prevention experts.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Waste" Web Page. This Web site provides information about:

  • EPA's WasteWise Program—a free, voluntary, EPA partnership program through which businesses, governments, and other organizations eliminate costly municipal solid waste, benefiting their bottom line and the environment.
  • Pay as You Throw—a method of billing for solid waste disposal services in which residents pay directly based on the amount of waste they generate.
  • Source Reduction documents.

CalRecycle Publications

Business Waste Reduction Publications: This page indexes all of the CalRecycle's business waste reduction publications. [Note: not all of the business waste reduction publications focus on waste prevention, nor on paper.] All publications are available in hard copy, and many are also online, either as HTML documents or as downloadable Microsoft Word documents.

Other Publications

Business Guide to Paper Reduction (Forest Ethics, Sept. 2002). This publication, also available as a PDF (1.3 MB) file, is a toolkit for building a paper reduction campaign. The first section contains educational background information. The second section is a step-by-step guide to implementing a paper reduction campaign in a company. The third section presents the case studies, which inspired and informed the step-by-step guide.

Last updated: October 01, 2011
Scott Beckner (916) 341-6595