Behind the Industry’s Push for ‘Responsible Paper Use’
In its June issue, Book Business covered the newly created Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper Use, a formal effort to change the book industry’s environmental impact. The treatise reflects the input of 25 industry stakeholders—publishers, printers, paper companies and merchants—and sets industry-wide goals for change. The primary goal: to increase the average use of recycled fiber from the industry’s current 5 percent to 30 percent within five years.
So far, the treatise has been signed by 118 publishers, two paper mills and four printers, and supporters are making a significant push to enlist many others. Book Business asked those involved in the creation of the treatise—members of the Treatise Leadership Council—what the treatise means to them and to the industry, and why other publishers, printers and paper companies should contemplate adding their own John Hancock.
“When most publishers, myself included, juggle meetings, deadlines, reports and numbers, we don’t think about environmental issues related to paper and production. It’s too removed, and for years it wasn’t on my mind. But after seeing a printer pour volatile inks down a drain, I thought about where the drain ends up and have been connecting the dots ever since. When we are aware of the issues, we act different and will make a decision that isn’t based solely on the balance sheet. But if we keep our eyes closed, we don’t see that we might be part of a problem or perhaps a solution. When it came down to it, I realized five things that I care about and hope that others might consider: 1) Kids and grandkids; 2) Global warming; 3) Supporting the protection of rare and threatened forests; 4) Caring for the diversity of life and cultures; 5) Knowing that I tried to do the right things in life.
There was a time when it was acceptable for child laborers in the United States to make products, and fortunately we evolved past that short-sightedness. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future we, as an industry, will look back at our shift in perception and remember when we joined forces to commit to shared principles of stewardship and accountability and how it felt to succeed.”
—Rudy Shur, president, Square One Publishers
The Time to Act is Now
“In the last two decades, it has become evident to all but the most recalcitrant of skeptics … that our planet’s climate is changing and that the results will be far-reaching and potentially devastating. We can no longer isolate ourselves from the consequences of our resource consumption, and hope that somebody else will make the tough decisions for us and make climate change go away. We can no longer afford to hope that no one will be affected by what we do—that our impact is too small or our efforts too limited. We have to change our ways and change them now.
When we think about climate change, and energy and resource use, however, it’s easy to think of problems [that would prevent us from changing our ways]. … I like to concentrate on positive steps, which, even though they may not be perfect, nonetheless take us in the right direction.
The treatise is one such positive step. It offers a vision of the future where the book publishing industry is making a difference… challenging itself and the people who read our books to recognize that the knowledge and entertainment we get from them are only available to us if we have a viable world to live in.
There will continue to be those who will find excuses to avoid making the right choices. … But we don’t have the time to listen to them. We must do what we can, and do it now, and the treatise is an excellent start.”
—Martin Rowe, vice president, Lantern Books
The Treatise as a Destination and a Map
“I am the CEO of a book manufacturer, but sometimes I turn to my experiences as a cyclist for inspiration. I have learned from cycling that if you do not have a planned route, you can waste a lot of energy trying to get to a destination. In fact, you might end up hopelessly lost and not make it at all.
The Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper Use is much like one of my cycling itineraries. It not only describes a destination, but also serves as a road map toward an industry that is more socially responsible. The treatise is a unique example of varying interests coming together to carve out a tangible and reasonable path forward. With a clearly stated destination established, each of our businesses can set plans and milestones that will help us reach the goal.
Thomson-Shore followed this approach to achieve an average use of more than 30 percent post-consumer recycled fiber in our total production in less than three years. The success of accomplishing this goal has convinced me that our industry can make a significant ecological and social impact on our world. At Thomson-Shore, we embrace the Treatise because it charts a course for how our industry can make a better future, and that is a compelling journey worth taking.”
—Myron Marsh, president-CEO, Thomson-Shore, Inc.
Trends in the Right Direction
“Book publishers are choosing recycled fibers over virgin in greater numbers. ... In the past five years, more than 20 new eco-book papers have been developed . ...Eighteen U.S. printers now stock book papers with recycled and/or [Forest Stewardship Council-certified] pulp, and many are offering recycled house sheets to avoid extra cost to the publisher.
The decision to use environmentally responsible papers is becoming easier every day—a 2005 poll by Book Business magazine even revealed that 17 percent of publishers are using environmentally responsible papers at cost parity. Price premiums, when they do exist, are down from 15 percent to 20 percent in 2001 to 1 percent to 8 percent now, and many publishers have realized that a commitment to eco-friendly publishing is worth a few percentage points in additional cost.
By signing on to the Treatise for Responsible Paper Use, publishers, printers, mills and others can … help move the entire industry toward a less destructive standard of practice.”
—Gabriella Page Fort, publishing services supervisor,
Continuum International Publishing Group
A Tool for Overcoming Hurdles
“As a publisher of more than 350 new titles annually, and a consumer of paper, we want to be a more environmentally responsible in our purchasing. ... We are incorporating the treatise goals as a tool with our suppliers, and have started the dialogue on the impact of environmental policy and awareness with our main vendors in Asia. By using our purchasing power and knowledge of other publishers’ wishes, we can help further the industry’s long-term goal of having more responsible sheets, with recycled and FSC content, readily available to publishers.
As any publisher begins walking down the road of social responsibility, it is necessary to assemble as many tools as possible, and the treatise is no doubt a valuable tool. As an industry agreement with clear goals and timelines, it serves to focus attention on what is needed in terms of product development.
For publishers manufacturing overseas, like Chronicle, it also offers the opportunity to engage overseas printers, mills and brokers in working toward solutions. No one can argue the fact that we can accomplish more together than individually, and this agreement serves to bring different interests together around common goals and standards.”
—Shona Burns, Executive Director, Publishing, Chronicle Books
The Benefits of Accomplishing the Treatise Goals
“The book industry’s paper consumption is significant—nearly one million tons of paper per year. Accordingly, the benefits of accomplishing the goals outlined in the Book Industry Treatise can and will be significant. If we work together we can accomplish the following gains:
• Increasing industry use of post-consumer recycled fiber from 5 percent to 30 percent … eliminating 524 million pounds of greenhouse gases annually (equal to keeping 45,818 cars off the road each year), and conserving the equivalent of 4.9 million trees, 2.1 billion gallons of water, and 264 million pounds of solid waste every year [calculated by Environmental Defense, 2004].
• By committing to eliminate fiber originating from Endangered Forests and to cease sourcing fiber from forests that are converted to plantations, we are supporting protections for the most rare and threatened forest types on the planet and are helping to keep 90 percent of species in a natural forest intact.”
—John Walsh, assistant production director,
The Supply-Chain Perspective
“Dirigo Paper makes recycled book papers and other products at its mill in northern Vermont. The ups and downs of the recycled pulp market over the past decade demonstrate that, without sustained demand, the recycled pulp infrastructure will not develop.
We believe publisher and printer commitment to the goals of the treatise will encourage development of the supply of post-consumer recycled fiber, by increasing manufacturing efficiencies for de-inking plants, making recycled raw material more readily available to paper manufacturers, and lowering the cost of both raw material and recycled-content paper in the future.”
—Peter Hanson, president, Dirigo Paper Company
More on the Supply Chain
“As the former production director for Cornell University Press and the director of New Leaf Paper’s book paper division, I can honestly tell you that my life has been and is steeped in the ever-growing world of eco-friendly paper. As a member of the university press community, I’ve seen the positive supply chain response to clear and sustained demand from publishers—even if only from a few.
Now, representing a unique merchant specializing in recycled paper development, I work to convince paper companies all over the world to develop paper grades with strong environmental attributes that we and others can bring to the marketplace.
The treatise defines standards and provides assurances that these mills need to make the investments in developing new eco-friendly paper grades. As more publishers and printers join the effort, it will help to aggregate demand and further drive down price premiums—something that everyone cares about.”
—Deborah Bruner, director, Book Papers, New Leaf Paper
For more information on the Book Industry Treatise on
Responsible Paper Use, please visit www.SustainPrint.com or www.GreenPressInitiative.org.