Green Scene: Publishing and the Environment: New 'Green' Publishing Certification
It's one thing to use a little recycled paper here and there and say you're into sustainability; it's another to get your company certified as environmentally responsible. In January, the Green Press Initiative (GPI)—a nonprofit that works with the book and newspaper publishing industries to conserve natural resources, announced its long-awaited Environmentally Responsible Publisher Certification (ERPC).
Not unlike the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification for buildings, the GPI's program offers publishers tiers—bronze, silver and gold—for environmental achievement. The tiers set benchmarks for recycled and environmentally responsible paper use, but also reward other crucial practices such as efficient energy use and keeping discarded books out of landfills.
"We believe that … we have created a certification program that is extremely credible from an environmental standpoint, but still achievable for publishers who make environmental stewardship a priority," said Todd Pollack, program manager at GPI, in a press release.
Each tier provides four attainment options that combine benchmarks for recycled and post-consumer-recycled paper, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper with elective benchmarks. For example, option 1 for gold certification requires that a publishing company use at least 50-percent recycled paper (minimum 45-percent post-consumer), at least 30-percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified and one point from a list that includes actions such as:
• reducing average basis weight
• lowering returns
• reducing greenhouse gas emissions
• using alternative/agricultural fiber
• innovative products and initiatives.
Certified publishers may use the appropriate "Certified Environmentally Responsible Publisher" seal on websites, catalogs and promotional materials. The seal also may be used on any books printed while the certification is valid, as long as it is accompanied by language specifying that it indicates the publisher's overall stewardship, and not the environmental soundness of a specific product.
"We wanted to be put to the task of proving we're publishing responsibly," said Kara Davis, managing director at Lantern Books, which received gold certification during the program's piloting stage. "We know more clearly than ever where we're excelling and where we can still improve."