The publishing industry’s intensified movement toward going “green” was highlighted by recent reports from three major trade groups—the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF).
In this column, I summarize the major features of each of these reports, as well as note a bit of contention on some of the findings, that point to the why and how of going “green” for publishers and book printers. (For an extensive and very useful backgrounder, check out the article “The Green Team,” by James Sturdivant, in Book Business, February 2008, also available on BookBusinessMag.com).
Central to our industry’s business model is our reliance on trees for everything from printed pages to shipping cartons. This model has been assessed and critiqued by the environmental movement for its negative climate impact. Consequently, a number of market-based initiatives have emerged in recent years to provide guidance to the industry.
AAP’s Paper Issues Working Group (PIWOG)
PIWOG was established in June 2005 to provide AAP members with information and “a forum to discuss environmental issues relating to the production of paper used in books.” In February, it issued the “AAP Handbook on Book Paper and the Environment” (available for download at Publishers.org/main/Conferences/conf_Pub_01.htm).
The report reviews key issues, starting with the roughly 4 percent of the 23 million tons of paper made for printing and writing that went into book paper in 2006. It defines the term “recycled” and requirements for crediting the percentages of recycled fiber used in printing a book. It also addresses definitions and uses of post-consumer, pre-consumer and recovered waste, and classification of book returns.
The issue of how to classify and account for industry recovery and sustainability is significant in grading the effectiveness of industry efforts. Therefore, sources and production of paper and sustainable forest practices are explored, and certification programs are described in this 61-page report. It provides considerable background on the whole process of paper making and forest management, and offers publishers guidance on policy and practice.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.