As the digital revolution continues to drive more archive storage to disk rather than file cabinets it’s important to walk the talk when you depend on recycled paper for a raw material. We caught up with the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association Executive Director Dan Lea recently to find out what the policy on trash paper is at the Association headquarters.
Lea shared some background on the subject first. The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association was established in August 1982 as The Cellulose Industry Self-Enforcement Program, later changed to The Cellulose Industry Standards Enforcement Program (CISEP). In July 1992 new bylaws became effective restructuring CISEP as a trade association and changing the name to the current one CIMA we know today. In its 30-year history CIMA has accumulated paper documents filling about five filing cabinets and numerous file storage boxes.
“For about the last two years I have had an ongoing project of converting CIMA records we need to save for legal or historic purposes to digital files and disposing of materials that aren’t really useful for any purpose,” said Dan Lea, CIMA executive director. “As you would expect, that means we have a lot of waste paper to dispose of every week. I pay Waste Management for special weekly pickup of recyclable materials, so none of this goes to waste, but recently I was scheduled to visit a CIMA member’s plant and it occurred to me I could skip the middleman by taking paper directly to a facility where it could be converted into a useful product.”
Lea loaded discarded documents into a few boxes and took them to Advanced Fiber Technology, in Bucyrus, Ohio, where he and AFT owner Doug Leuthold fed them into one of AFT’s production lines.
“Of course, it was a purely symbolic gesture,” Lea said. “The amount of material we put into the process system probably represented about two or three seconds of production. But sometimes symbolism is important if it reminds us of the big picture—recover, reuse, recycle. It would be pretty irresponsible for me personally to carry all discarded CIMA documents 108 miles from Dayton to Bucyrus, or to any other CIMA member plant site, but If I’m going there anyway, why not? The contents of a file drawer might make a bag of insulation, and that’s a pretty good end use for it.”
Lea also said the steady transition paper to digital storage may be having an effect on the mountains of paper going into the waste stream instead of the recycling process. We reported on those staggering statistics in a story here on the Greenest Insulation blog recently and how cellulose insulation manufacturers are working on using alternative types of waste paper in their production processes.
How is your business dealing with the effect of the digital age on paper documents? If you are converting old docs from hard files to digital storage what are you doing with all the paper?