What Publishers Need to Know About Foreign-Sourced Papers: A Q&A with Green Press Initiative’s Todd Pollak
Indonesia’s Sumatran tiger population has declined by an estimated 70 percent in less than 30 years—with some estimates indicating that fewer than 200 Sumatran tigers now exist in the wild. The outlook for elephants and orangutans in this region is just as bleak. What does this have to do with where you’re buying your paper? Everything, according to Todd Pollak, program manager, book sector, for the nonprofit organization Green Press Initiative (GPI).
Pollak says China and South Korea may be sourcing your paper from Indonesia, which in turn could be doing considerable damage to the social and environmental health of that country.
“There’s no denying that it’s a lot cheaper,” he says of printing in those Asian countries. “It’s a cost issue, and that’s why they’re printing over there. The balance comes from the consideration of what you’re getting for what you’re paying for. How does it affect the people and wildlife that depend on the forest?”
Pollak spoke with Book Business Extra about how book publishers can be more environmentally and socially responsible when sourcing paper.
Book Business Extra: What are the impacts of foreign-sourced paper on Indonesian forests?
Todd Pollak: Obviously, the impacts are likely to be most significant if the paper is sourced from countries that import large quantities of Indonesian pulp and paper. By far, the largest two purchasers of Indonesian pulp are China and South Korea. So, books printed in those countries pose the greatest threat to Indonesia’s forests and people.
As for the impacts of the pulp and paper industry on Indonesia, they are quite significant. … Pulp production [there increased] 10-fold … between 1988 and 2001, while paper production increased by more than eight times during the same time period. Global demand for paper products, as well as other forest- derived products, has resulted in deforestation on a massive scale in Indonesia, with pulp and paper accounting for half or the country’s forest-derived exports. Indonesia is seeing deforestation at rates as high as 4.5 million acres per year, and as much as 65 percent of all logging is occurring illegally. In many cases, natural forests are replaced with single-species tree plantations that can only support a tiny fraction of the biodiversity of the tropical forests they replace.