Momentum Building for Green Books
The U.S. book publishing industry consumed approximately 1.1 million tons of book paper in the year 2000. That required cutting down an estimated 25 million trees.
Figures for 2001, published in 2002 by the American Forest and Paper Association, report 914,000 tons of paper were used for U.S. book publishing. Trees required to meet demand: 19 million.
Yet the average recycled content level (by fiber weight) across printing and writing grades is only 5%. The disparity between the ecological impact of publishing versus the meager levels of recovered materials in paper is driving responsible publishers to be part of the solution, instead of the problem.
To date, 35 progressive U.S. book publishers have signed formal commitments to maximize their use of post-consumer recycled paper, and eliminate all use of paper that contains fiber from endangered forests.
Recently some 25 publishers, printers, suppliers, and manufacturers met in New York to explore how to inspire environmental innovation within the industry. The meeting was coordinated by the Green Press Initiative, a non-profit program, and was a successful first step.
Some of the participating companies included Person (parent to Penguin Patna), Weyerhaeuser, R. R. Donnelley, Oxford University Press, New Leaf Paper, Lantern Books, Lindenmeyr, the Association of American Publishers, Midland Paper, Workman Publishing, Maple Vail Book Manufacturing, Fraser Papers.
Representatives from the Markets Initiative, a Canadian non-profit environmental group, were also on hand. They spoke about how paper consumption is affecting Canadian frontier forests, and how Canadian publishers are successfully using recycled papers that are free of endangered or ancient forest fiber.
The facts are sobering. In the Canadian Boreal forest, over 65% of the trees cut are used to make paper. In the temperate rainforests of British Columbia, over 40% of trees cut are used to make paper.