There are 3 main bleaching processes in the paper industry: Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF), Total Chlorine Free (TCF) and Process Chlorine Free (PCF).
PCF is usually applied in the paper recycling industry, while the other two processes are common in papers that use virgin fibers.
Papers described as ECF are composed of fibers bleached with chlorine dioxide, and processes described as TCF result in fibers bleached with chemicals such as oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. ECF and TCF processes have no significant environmental impact differences. Both techniques have BAT (Best Available Technique) status, which means they’re state-of-the-art processes that meets the best results regarding environmental regulations. The main difference between both processes is the final product quality. While TCF is an intense bleaching process, resulting in a pulp with weaker fibers, the ECF process delivers a higher quality fiber which, in the end, allows GPS to consume less energy and less wood and obtain a more recyclable product than a TCF process would.