Book manufacturers: Going green
Sponsored by HP
Book manufacturers have been moving in a “green” direction for several years, giving more thought to conservation and the use of recycled materials. Lately, as book publishers and consumers have increasingly been expecting such practices, the green movement has taken on new momentum.
“Consumers look for the use of recycled paper,” says Tad Parker, president of New Hampshire-based Odyssey Press. “Our [publishing] clients are very interested in it. From a corporate perspective it seems to be a very hot area.”
Odyssey has long been an environmental leader, embracing initiatives such as Forest Stewardship Counsel (FSC) certification, which allows the printer to participate in supply chain processes recognized as having a minimal impact on the planet.
“FSC is a method of certifying that the materials you are using have been grown, procured and treated in an environmentally sustainable way,” Parker explains. “In the paper business in particular, [it demonstrates] the materials used in the creation of the paper were done in a way that was not environmentally harmful.”
Any product bearing an FSC logo must flow through an FSC-certified “chain of custody” – from forest to paper manufacturer, merchant and printer. Publishers, retailers and consumers know that FSC-branded materials are sourced legally from forests managed in a sustainable fashion, without damage to sensitive ecosystems.
“Everyone has to be FSC certified or the chain is broken, from the guy who’s cutting the trees to the pulpers to the paper makers to the merchants to the printers,” Parker says. “If publishers supply paper to us and want to use an FSC logo, because they own that paper, they [also] have to be certified.”
FSC is one of three major supply chain certification programs run through nonprofits (the others are the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). As the most widely adopted program in the U.S., FSC provides a clear path to sustainability and brands companies as having made a major commitment to green practices. The cost of entry is high, however, in order to cover the yearly audits that give the designation teeth. Participants also must follow specific inventory and administrative practices to allow for inbound and outbound materials tracking.
Adherence to these requirements has become easier as major suppliers, such as International Paper, have increased the number and range of their FSC-certified products. Also important to printers has been the efforts of equipment suppliers such as Hewlett-Packard to test FSC-approved and recycled papers in their machines. “Their own goal to be environmentally sensitive drives them to find papers that are FSC certified,” Parker says of Hewlett-Packard. “Even cover papers [for journals] have some recycled paper, so we find they give new purchasers of their equipment a leg up in being able to understand what paper can run on it.”
In addition to facilitating the use of FSC-certified and recycled paper, digital printing allows publishers to significantly reduce the amount of paper required in the first place. With as much as 40 percent of the paper used in offset printing wasted due to make-ready or overruns, and (according to one study by RIT) 30 percent of all traditionally printed material never consumed due to spoilage or obsolescence, the ability to utilize paperless proofing and print on demand technology can make a huge difference.
“Digital printing requires negligible amounts of paper spoilage for set-up and eliminates the need for over running extra copies as there is greater control over the variables that create these items in an offset environment,” Parker says. “Our clients can keep smaller or eliminate inventories of these products as print on demand technologies permits them to reprint their products quickly and cost effectively while reducing the stocking and carrying costs associated with conventional warehousing models.”
By recently deciding to convert all printing processes to digital, Odyssey has also reduced or eliminated the use of solvents and other production by-products associated with offset printing. Taking these efforts further, the publisher has begun to purchase carbon offsets, which subsidize solar, wind and hydropower in exchange for the company’s use of energy from coal-based sources.
“We are investing in alternate sources of energy,” Parker says, “in the hopes that those particular industries will become viable to a point where more and more of the energy that we’re using will come from those sustainable sources.”
It all adds up to what is, for Odyssey, a guiding philosophy. Treading the greener path, Parker says, “has become part of our raison d'être, part of the fabric of who we are.”
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