Arbor Day Every Day: A Tree-Free Alternative for the Office

Regenerative Design

From memos to contracts, to-do-lists and reports, paper is a part of office life. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 90 percent of all office waste is paper, but this presents a ripe opportunity for us to reduce paper use and take advantage of tree-free alternatives that contribute to a circular economy.

Jeffrey Foote

Tree Zero is North America’s only 100% tree-free, carbon neutral paper brand. TreeZero Executive Vice President of Sustainability Jeffrey Foote spoke with Southface on how offices can incorporate tree-free and tree-friendly practices into company culture.

TreeZero paper begins as bagasse, a rapidly renewable fiber and a byproduct of crushed sugarcane. The bagasse is carefully collected and sorted, and processed into a raw material.

“The sorted bagasse fibers are then pulped, and the pulp is run through a mill that uses a proprietary process for making premium TreeZero paper, which creates less dusting in copiers and printers than traditional content tree-based papers,” Foote said.   

TreeZero’s manufacturing facilities are based in Colombia and Argentina, and the finished products are sold throughout the United States and Canada.

Yet sustainability is more than a recyclable product. Foote says that in 2016, TreeZero prioritized investing in a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA), and measured the impact of its entire operations from production to retail.

“The LCA shows generation of 4.9 pounds of CO2 per five-pound ream of TreeZero paper. Based on the LCA data, TreeZero has purchased and retired one ton of Verified Carbon Standard carbon credits for each ton of paper purchased from our suppliers, from 2010 to 2017,” Foote said.

Looking to 2018 and beyond, Foote said TreeZero plans to continue to purchase and retire one ton of carbon credits for each ton of TreeZero paper sold.

“The community focus of our carbon neutrality efforts help stem the tide against deforestation,” he said. “We participate in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries [REDD+] projects managed by our partner Wildlife Works in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”  

Two-thirds of the funds dedicated to TreeZero’s carbon neutrality efforts go to Wildlife Works communities that are working to stop deforestation.  

Widely available and relatively affordable, paper is critical to most any office. Foote said that initially, many paper users have a slight aversion to change, but education is critical in making the shift to tree-free goods.

Companies can begin by first simply monitoring and measuring current paper use. Then, set goals to increase recycling and reduce consumption. Encourage coworkers to print double-sided, or avoid unnecessary copying and printing altogether.

“We encourage companies to implement sustainability as part as their corporate culture and one simple step as part of that process can be to being using 100% tree free, carbon neutral paper products,” Foote said.  

Aside from the clear benefits to the environment, Foote added that using tree-free paper products align with emerging trends in consumer and company culture:  

  • Increased demand for social responsibility: 70% of millennials are willing to spend more with brands that support causes they care about. (Source: American Marketing Association)
  • Holding corporations accountable: 265 investors with $29 trillion in assets have requested that companies report data about forest risks in 2017. (Source: Carbon Disclosure Project)
  • Living out company values: By 2020, millennials will make up nearly half of the working population. This group is selective about the businesses they work for because they look deeper into the values of the companies they buy from. (Source: Forbes)

Tree-free paper gives natural resources a second life, and with TreeZero in particular, provides economic and environmental benefits globally. As you restock the office copier with the next ream, consider alternative products that could have a lasting impact.

For more information on TreeZero’s products and mission, visit

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