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Paper consumption – switching to recycled paper certified with the ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel) ecolabel

Did you know that the University of Cologne is increasingly using recycled paper instead of fresh fibre paper?

This is to help reduce water and energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions in paper production.

In this context, from October 2019 the University has also been taking part in the so-called ‘Papieratlas’ (Paper Atlas), a federal initiative in cooperation with the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers. This means that universities disclose their consumption and are awarded prizes if they increase their share of recycled paper.

The Procurement Department has calculated that just under 21 million sheets (A4) of paper were consumed in the offices at the University of Cologne in 2018. Of this amount, just under half was certified with the ‘Der Blaue Engel’ ecolabel. This means that the University is not (yet) a pioneer, but since 2020 it is in a much better position, as it has now switched almost completely to recycled paper.

If you like, you can estimate how much water, energy, and CO2 are saved by using recycled paper. You can find the solution here:
Simply enter the number of sheets and the result will appear.

Of course, it is best to avoid paper consumption in the first place!
Tips for more sustainability in the workplace can be found here.

Paper consumption

Purchased number of sheets of recycled paper ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (universal paper with 80g/m²)
Period: 1 July 2018 - 31 July 2019: 16,613,500 sheets


The use of recycled paper certified by the ecolabel ‘Der Blaue Engel’ results in the following reductions/savings compared to fresh fibre paper:

  • Teaser-Bild Savings (litres): 2,628,255.70
  • Teaser-Bild Electricity savings (kWh): 541,600.10
  • Teaser-Bild Reduction of carbon dioxide (kg): 14,952.15
  • Teaser-Bild Number of trees saved for CO2 compensation¹: 1,196.17

¹ Trees bind CO2. However, this depends on factors such as the species of tree, the age of the tree, the density of the wood, the rate of growth, the climate, the quality of the soil, the water supply, and others.
This calculation is based on a beech tree that is about 50 years old, 23 metres high and has a trunk height of 1.30 metres. The diameter is about 30 centimetres.


Per sheet of paper (A4), about 200 ml of water are saved compared to conventionally produced fresh fibre paper.