Potholes on the Road to Recycled
Our publisher, Marc Allen, certainly wants a healthy bottom line, as do publishers throughout the industry. But Marc is willing to cede some profit—in this case, a few pennies per book—in the interest of environmentally responsible publishing and manufacturing.
To that end we also invested in a solar energy system to run our entire office this year. Using recycled paper goes hand-in-glove with our other environmentally-motivated business initiatives.
Paper availability is another challenge. Two years ago, neither of our two top printers, Friesens in Manitoba or Transcontinental Printing in Quebec, stocked recycled paper, although both would special order on request.
But with our steadily increasing demand, both printers are now stocking 100% recycled, 100% post-consumer waste paper. Our increasing demand has also reduced costs considerably. Transcontinental Printing is also working directly with the Boise Cascade mill to supply their stock of 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper.
This strategy of working closely with our printers, keeping them abreast of our upcoming needs, making them aware of our commitment to green publishing, and encouraging them to build up the supply chain has led to more paper options and greater availability.
While we are an unusually (these days, at least) environmentally-conscious publishing house, we still decide on a book-by-book basis whether to use recycled paper and, if so, what type (ranging from 30% to 100% post-consumer recycled).
For example, on reprints, when quantities come down and printing costs rise, recycled paper is rarely an option. Also, the bulking of recycled paper and virgin paper differs. Reformatting the cover to fit recycled paper's thinner spine width also drives up reprint costs.
To support our recycled-paper efforts Transcontinental Printing offered to make spine changes at no charge. This lets us run larger reprint runs on lower bulk recycled paper, and smaller runs on higher bulk traditional paper, as costs go up.