Paper Grades--Refocusing on RecycledApril 1998
Some experts attribute this to bad timing in the world paper climate. Reportedly, the mill openings coincided with a period during which cost for the wastepaper used to make deinked pulp was at an all-time high. At the same time, multinational companies began importing cheaper virgin pulp from mills in South America. Without a consistent market for recycled papers, some mills have kept struggling.
So, is there any hope for the returned popularity of recycled grades in what has been termed our "throwaway society"?
You bet. Just ask Sternau. Wheal-Grace has promoted eco-friendly printing processes for years, and has found that customers are very interested in recycled grades. "It used to be that you paid a premium for recycled paper," states Sternau. "But in the last year, we found that most mills and merchants have dropped the prices, so it's a level playing field."
Cunningham agrees. "It's leveled off," he states. "With all the new equipment at the mills, they're finding advantages to making recycled papers."
Since recycled grades are comparable in price to virgin papers, generating interest in recycled may just be a matter of reminding buyers of its availability and benefits.
"In general it's a matter of focusing buyers on [recycled papers], educating them and getting them to use the highest amount of postconsumer waste content," comments Sternau.
Wheal-Grace has developed an innovative way of reminding its clients of the effects of making environmentally sound paper and printing decisions—through its trademarked Green Print program.
As part of the program, Wheal-Grace consults with customers to help them choose the most appropriate paper and processes for the job. Then, using a proprietary software program, Wheal-Grace is able to calculate the environmental benefits of selecting such elements. Printed pieces carry the Green Print logo, as well as an environmental impact statement that details the project's savings of trees, air, water, landfill space and energy.
"We've had a lot of success with this program," notes Emil R. Salvini, president of Wheal-Grace. "Dozens of major companies, including Citibank, Con Edison and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, have chosen to go the eco-friendly Green Print way."
Interest has been so great that Wheal-Grace is now preparing to launch the Green Print licensing program to printers across the country, enabling them to share environmentally friendly options and results with print buyers.
"Over the past several years since we introduced the Green Print program, we have seen a steady interest in recycled paper," assesses Sternau.
"The burning issue of the day doesn't stay with us for decades," he muses. "Recycling is not quite a hot topic because it's been around so long."
However, with federal agencies upping their recycled fiber content and corporate America embracing environmentally friendly images, the popularity of recycled paper grades may just be warming up. Sternau also points out another demographic with a determined interest in recycling—the consumers and print buyers of tomorrow. Wheal-Grace works with elementary school students, introducing them to recycled paper.
"There is tremendous interest among young people in anything environmental," Sternau attests.
—Carolyn R. Bak
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