What Publishers Need to Know About Foreign-Sourced Papers: A Q&A with Green Press Initiative’s Todd Pollak
Extra: How can publishers make sure foreign-sourced paper comes from a responsible source?
Pollak: The best thing to do is to … avoid using papers for which you cannot confirm the origin of the fiber. Using papers with a high recycled content is a great way to ensure that the fiber is not sourced from controversial sources, as is using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified papers …. It’s really important that publishers start a dialog with their suppliers about the origin of the fiber and send a message to the supply chain that this is an important issue …. GPI has developed a survey publishers can use as a tool for asking these kinds of questions of suppliers (www.GreenPressInitiative.org/tools/bookindustry.htm).
… Over 150 publishers, including Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster, have set strong environmental policies. Some of these policies not only set goals for the amount of recycled fiber they use, but also set a target or state a preference for FSC-certified paper. Some publishers like Amber Lotus, Pearson and Chronicle are also importing the paper themselves so that they can be sure they know where it is coming from, and that is has ecological attributes. … Staples has stopped sourcing paper from Asia Pulp and Paper, the largest paper producer in Indonesia. That’s the best way publishers can help—to send a clear message to their suppliers that they are not willing to purchase paper that is potentially from endangered forests or areas of social conflict.
Extra: What are the human/social implications of obtaining paper from Indonesia?
Pollak: The human impacts are very severe. In the past, communities in Indonesia have been forced from their land, often with the presence of armed police or military officials, who have close ties to the paper industry. This is in direct violation of Indonesia’s constitution, which grants its people traditional land- use rights. In some cases, with the forest they depend on destroyed, the people who [are] displaced by the logging companies have no choice but to work on the plantations for exploitative wages. Much of this resulted from corruption under Indonesia’s former President Suharto, who nationalized much of the country’s forests and granted logging concessions to friends, family and political allies. Though he has been out of power since 1998, meaningful change has been slow to come.