A sweet take on recycling
A sweet take on recycling
November 2, 2016

A sweet take on recycling

As an environmental advocate in 1972, Wells Fargo supplied customers with paper checks made not from wood pulp but from “bagasse” — a sugar cane residue.

Wells Fargo was one of the first banks in the industry to offer checks printed on recycled paper. A green stagecoach, signifying Wells Fargo’s ecological efforts, appeared on the cover of the Wells Fargo Banker in 1972.

On Feb. 1 that year, Wells Fargo began printing checks on paper that was produced from 86 percent bagasse (pronounced buh-GAS’) instead of wood pulp. Bagasse is the crushed, juiceless residue of sugar cane as it comes from the mill, which would simply become industrial waste if not recycled for paper. News of Wells Fargo’s “bagasse checks” prompted postcards, letters and phone calls praising the bank’s effort at ecology.

Wells Fargo bagasse checks

Wells Fargo chose bagasse in place of recycled paper because the latter could not, at that time, meet check-printing requirements. Foreign material in recycled paper could detract from the magnetic readings checks require. Plus, the quality of recycled paper was unsuitable for printing the four-color stagecoach checks.

In 1991, recycled paper had improved for use as checks. Wells Fargo introduced new check designs printed on recycled paper: “Wells Fargo is committed to using recycled paper in all areas of our business, from stationery to computer paper to loan applications. As a checking customer you see that commitment in monthly account statements and envelope made from recycled paper, as well as in teller receipts and deposit envelopes. Recycling is important to us and our communities and our goal is to do our part to make it work.”

It’s still a goal today.

Learn more about Wells Fargo’s commitment to improving the environment.

Note: This story was originally published on April 13, 2007.