A Green Glossary
August 15, 2011 | 2:36 am UTC

By Gerry Rector, Associate Marketing Director, Neenah Paper, Inc.

Our vocabulary is now chock full of green words and phrases, making it easy to be confused by all of the terms being used. To help those of us who may not understand all of them yet, we’ve put together the following glossary:

• CARB Compliant: Meets the standards of the California Air Resources Board. CARB found that one of the major sources of formaldehyde exposure is through the inhalation of resin emissions from composite wood products. See www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood.

• Carbon Footprint: A measure of the resources used for each person or organization based on the land required for food, clothes and sustenance. Although not precise, this is a common metric in environmental and sustainability reports. Also called Ecological Footprint.

• CFPA: The Chlorine Free Products Association — an independent not-for-profit accreditation and standard setting organization that promotes sustainable manufacturing practices, advanced technologies free of chlorine chemistry and consumer education on alternatives, and helps develop world markets for sustainably produced third-party certified products and services. See Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) and Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) below and www.chlorinefreeproducts.org.

• Chlorine: A chemical element commonly used to bleach fibers, although this practice has been mostly eliminated. Virgin fibers generally contain no elemental chlorine (See ECF below) or are bleached using only non-chlorine compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, oxygen or ozone (TCF). Recycled fibers are generally PCF, meaning they were put back into the paper without the use of any chlorine or its compounds.

• Conservation: The preservation and responsible use of our natural resources to ensure they endure.

• Crop Residue: An alternative source of fiber for paper making. Bamboo, kenaf and hemp are often used fibers in crop residue. A clean and renewable source of cellulose.

• CRS: The Center for Resource Solutions—a national nonprofit working to build a robust renewable energy market by increasing the demand and supply of renewable resources. CRS administers the Green-e Renewable Electricity Certification program, which certifies renewable power products sold by marketers, utilities and energy service providers in wholesale and retail markets. See www.resource-solutions.org.

•ECF: Elemental Chlorine Free pulp is bleached without the use of elemental chlorine. Generally this is virgin fiber bleached with chlorine dioxide.

• Environmental Impact: A measure of the total impact of an activity on the environment. This includes production, transportation and energy.

• EPA: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which publishes purchasing guidelines for minimum recycled product content. Many state and local governments and businesses have voluntarily adopted these guidelines. EPA handles most of the responsibility for environmental guidance, direction, monitoring and enforcement in the United States. See www.epa.gov.

• Formaldehyde: A cross-linking agent that can have detrimental effects on health. Many environmental organizations and governments are in the process of eliminating formaldehyde from the home and workplace.

• FSC: The Forest Stewardship Council—an independent, international, environmentally and socially oriented forest certification organization. It trains, accredits and monitors third-party certifiers around the world and works to establish international forest management standards. Visit www.fsc.org and rainforest-alliance.org.

• GREENGUARD Certification Standards for Low Emitting Products: Performance based standards set by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) to define goods with low chemical and particle emissions for use indoors. These goods include primarily building materials, interior furnishings, furniture, cleaning and maintenance products, electronic equipment and personal care products. The standard establishes certification procedures including test methods, allowable emissions levels, product sample collection and handling, testing type and frequency, and program application processes and acceptance.

• Green-e Renewable Electricity Certification Program: The nation’s leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy products. CRS established the Green-e Program in 1997 to help individuals and businesses make responsible choices about the power they purchase. Visit www.green-e.org for more information.

• Green Power: Electricity produced by renewable resources that have little to no impact on the environment and produce no net greenhouse gas emissions in generating the electricity. These renewable sources include but are not limited to wind power, solar power, low impact hydropower and biomass.

• Green Seal Certification: Signifies recycled papers are made with a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and that mill processes, including packaging, are environmentally preferable. Green Seal is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase and use of environmentally responsible products and services. See www.greanseal.org.

• LEED: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED recognizes performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

• No Added Formaldehyde: Products made without formaldehyde. As formaldehyde exists in detectable quantities in almost all of nature, few goods are formaldehyde free. Instead, wood, paper and other natural products are described as being made without the use of formaldehyde.

• OFEE: The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive — created in 2003 to assist the federal government with the application of sustainable environmental practices.

• PCF: Manufactured free of chlorine chemistry and from sustainable raw materials.

• Recycled: Made at least in part from recovered fibers. There is no universally acceptable definition so requirements vary by specific circumstances. For example, EPA requires that recycled papers purchased by federal agencies to contain post consumer content. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not require post consumer content in papers labeled recycled. Most U.S. governments and companies uphold the EPA standards, but there is no requirement.

 Alpharetta, GA-based Neenah Paper Inc. (www.neenah.com) manufactures and distributes a wide range of premium and specialty paper grades, as well as producing and selling bleached pulp.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.