Though Chlorine has traditionally been used in paper products to whiten pulp, this is not a safe or sustainable process. When Chlorine flows into waterways as waste, after the bleaching process, it can seriously harm the aquatic environment. Fortunately, paper products of equal quality can be produced without the use of Chlorine.
There are three classifications of reduced chlorine content: Totally Chlorine Free, Processed Chlorine Free, and Elemental Chlorine Free.
Totally Chlorine Free is made from pulp that has not been bleached with Chlorine or with any derivatives of Chlorine.
Paper products that are labeled Processed Chlorine Free are typically made from recycled materials. Although they are manufactured without the use of Chlorine or its derivatives, some of the material may contain trace levels of Chlorine. Overall, however, this is often the best option for paper products, given the value of using post-consumer, raw materials instead of virgin pulp.
Elemental Chlorine Free, though preferable to conventional products, is the least sustainable choice among reduced chlorine products. Instead of elemental Chlorine (CI), it uses a chlorine derivative, such as Chlorine Dioxide (CIO2). Although less toxic than element Chlorine, it is still harmful to the environment.