Environmentally friendly new school year with the Blue Angel

Despite digitalisation, millions of exercise books are sold in Germany every year - and only a small proportion of them are made from recycled paper. Almut Reichart of the Federal Environment Agency explains why the quota should actually be higher.

Almut Reichart: Recycled paper is a symbol of a successful circular economy: Waste paper can be used to make new paper, which in turn is recycled. This saves us a lot of wood, and that relieves the pressure on the forests, which can serve as CO2 reservoirs. And moreover, producing recycled paper is significantly more water- and energy-efficient than producing new paper.

There are many different quality and environmental labels for paper. Which ones should consumers pay particular attention to?
Almut Reichart: Well, first and foremost the German government's environmental label, the Blue Angel, because it has the most demanding criteria for recycled paper. The Blue Angel requires exercise books, notepads or copy paper to be made from 100 per cent recycled paper. What's more, the production process does not use chlorine, halogenated bleaching agents or complexing agents that are difficult to break down. With other seals, you don't know exactly how much waste paper is contained in the product.

It's not just exercise books, colouring pads and the like that can be eco-friendly; pens and pencils are also produced in a resource-friendly way and labelled with the Blue Angel.