Green Printing — Pulp (Non) Fiction: Fighting for Our Forests
Is it recycled? Is it recyclable?
Does the mill use energy efficiently? What about clean air and water? What about sustainable forestry? Should I buy from a printer who uses soy inks? Should I buy from a printer who’s close by so that there is less energy used in delivering my print job? What about global warming?
These are excellent questions, and clearly it’s not just about recycling. Fortunately, help is on the way.
Three years ago, I conducted market research on environmentally preferred papers (EPP). I went to Seattle because I expected the Pacific Northwest to be especially sensitive to environmental issues but, even there, I found that the awareness of environmentally friendly papers was very limited. People knew about recycled paper, but said it was lower quality and higher priced. Beyond that, there wasn’t much awareness.
This is no longer the case.
Many companies now have a senior executive whose role is corporate social responsibility, and this includes managing sustainability. Companies issue social responsibility reports along with their annual reports, and issues such as green buildings and green power are rising in importance, along with the mantra for paper, print and packaging to reduce, reuse, recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycling is an excellent starting point, but there are limits to recycling. Some papers drop out of the fiber stream, remaining in libraries, file cabinets and bookshelves. Fibers also degrade with reuse and, according to a study by Metafore, a non-profit group based in Portland, OR, if we didn’t add any virgin fiber to the fiber stream, we would run out of fiber in a matter of months.
Mills have long used recycled fiber, as much as is collected, and it is not clear that more demand and higher prices would necessarily result in higher collection rates. If a few customers demand more recycled content, unless collection and recovery increased, the net effect would be zero because there would simply be less available for other products and other customers.
Jack Miller is founder and Principal Consultant at Market-Intell LLC, offering Need to Know™ market intelligence in paper, print and packaging. Previously, he was senior consultant, North America, with Pira International.
Known as the Paper Guru, Jack is the former director of Market Intelligence with Domtar, where he also held positions as regional sales manager, territory sales manager and product manager. He has presented at On Demand, RISI’s Global Outlook, PRIMIR, SustainCom World and at various IntertechPira conferences. Jack has written for Printing Impressions, Canadian Printer, Paper 360, PaperTree Letter and Package Printing, along with publishing a monthly e-newsletter, MarketIntellibits.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from The College of the Holy Cross and has done graduate studies in Statistics and Finance.