An eye-opening response to my recent email survey of PMA members about trends in use of recycled paper came from Lily G. Stephen at Blooming Rose Press in Mount Shasta, CA, who praised the Green Press Initiative. You owe it to yourself–and excuse me if this sounds grandiose, perhaps to the future of our forests as well–to check this out at www.GreenPressInitiative.org.
Early this year, Stephen discovered GPI, whose Web site “was an inspiration to me,” she said. “I saw possibilities for extending our Earth-friendly habits at home into the way we publish.”
Green Press Initiative is a nonprofit, foundation-funded organization based in Ann Arbor, MI, whose mission is to work with authors, publishers, printers, paper manufacturers, and others “to create paper-use transformations that will conserve natural resources and preserve endangered forests.”
Blooming Rose Press quickly became one of 66 U.S. publishers on the GPI roster. Soon after, the press made a print-buying decision based on the availability of recycled, acid-free text stock. McNaughton & Gunn printed volume two of its evolutionary fiction trilogy, The El-eventh Hour, on 50# Thor Offset with 30 percent postconsumer content.
According to the Green Press Initiative, nearly 1 million tons of paper are produced annually for U.S. book publishing, at a cost of about 20 million trees. Recycled fiber accounts for only about 5 percent.
Assessing the Impact
“Few corporate executives, when asked if contributing to the loss of endangered forests was part of their business plan, would respond positively,” according to GPI. “In fact, most book publishers and printers are probably unaware that their policies actively contribute to the loss of these valuable natural areas. This is due in large part to the fact that corporate operating principles rely almost exclusively on economic factors such as profit and loss, annual sales, growth, and market share to determine success.
“The Green Press Initiative recognizes the need to be profitable and is also working to advance the inclusion of environmental and social impacts as additional measures of corporate success.”
GPI’s goals for “transformation” of the industry include:
- Use “responsible” sources of fiber in paper production, not fiber that originates from endangered forests.
- Maximize the use of recycled fiber.
- Minimize consumption as the most effective means of conserving resources.
- Give preference to chlorine-free products to support bleaching processes that minimize toxic discharges into our waterways.
As a prerequisite to joining GPI and using its logo, publishers must make good-faith commitments to achieve paper-use goals, including elimination of fibers from endangered forests and replacement with recycled fibers over a three- to five-year period.
You must be wondering: What is the cost of all this?
“Some publishers are making shifts to environmental papers without paying a penny more,” according to Tyson Miller, GPI’s founder and managing director. “Book printers such as Thomson-Shore, Lightning Source, IBT Global, and Transcontinental are offering book paper with 50 to 90 percent recycled fiber content at complete cost parity.”
Elsewhere, “publishers might run into costs that range between 1 and 10 percent higher, depending on a multitude of factors,” according to Miller. “But our reader polling shows that 78 percent of readers are wiling to pay more for books printed on the best environmental papers. The median amount was $1 per book when people were given six different choices.”
Keep the Trend Going
Miller reports that more than 70 Canadian publishers have made recycling commitments, working with an organization known as the Markets Initiative. These cross-border efforts, he said, are setting a trend within the industry as 15 new book sheets “with positive environmental attributes” have been developed in North America over the past three to four years.
Having done much research herself into environmental papers, Georgia Anderson of Azure Moon Publishing in Waverly, PA, points out that “doing something good always makes you feel good.” But she looks into the future pragmatically too.
“The bottom line, and it always comes to the bottom line,” she said, “is that when more of us are in a position to make a choice, we should make the choice for sustainable paper, then the price will drop dramatically for all of us.”
My thanks to the many other publishers who also responded to the survey, especially Deborah Perry of Canopy Publishing; Kenn Amdahl of Clearwater Publishing; Sidney Goldstein of Golden Aura Publishing; Hugo Bonjean of In the Eyes of Anahita; Dan Poynter of Para Publishing; and Tess Cacciatore of World Trust Foundation.
As always, I welcome your comments and ideas for PMA–on this subject and any others. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample Publisher Pledge to GPI
Green Press Initiative
1902 Linwood Ave., Suite 1
Ann Arbor, MI 48102
To whom it may concern:
[Name of publisher] is committed to protecting the environment and to the responsible use of natural resources. As a book publisher, with paper a core part of our business, we are concerned about the future of the world’s remaining ancient forests. We are committed to implementing policies that will facilitate the conservation of ancient and other endangered forests globally and will ensure that we are not contributing to the destruction of these irreplaceable natural treasures.
It is our intention to ensure that all wood-based products that we consume in the future are derived from ecologically sustainable sources. We recognize that only increased demand will make these products readily available at a competitive cost. As of [date], [publisher’s name] will begin implementing the following guidelines:
1. For books printed and bound in the U.S., we shall contact our suppliers/printers and conduct an audit of their wood-based products to determine what fibers they contain and where they originate. Suppliers/printers will be required to verify in writing that the sources of wood-based products they sell to our company meet this policy.
2. If we find that we are receiving products that contain old-growth or endangered forest fiber, we will implement a plan and timeline to phase out of these products.
3. If suppliers are unwilling to commit to our requirements, then we commit to sourcing from alternative suppliers that will fulfill our needs.
4. We will give purchasing preferences to postconsumer recycled products, and products from second-growth forests that have been independently certified according to strict ecological criteria. Currently the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only acceptable international certification program that adequately meets this goal.
4. We will give purchasing preference to chlorine-free products.
5. We will make our best effort to implement policies that are consistent with the Green Press Initiative’s Sustainable Paper Implementation Guidelines.
6. We will pursue the steps listed above with non-U.S. suppliers and printers.
In recognition of the need to preserve natural resources and protect ancient and endangered forests, we also commit to encourage other publishers and suppliers to develop similar strategies and policies. Preserving the remaining ancient forests of the world for future generations will require that all companies join us in this effort.
[President, Vice President, or Publisher]
For more information, visit www.GreenPressIntiative.org or phone Tyson Miller at 734/995-5785.
Publishers That Have Made the GPI Pledge
Adventure Trail Publishing, Amber Lotus Publishing, Ash Tree Publishing, Ave Maria Press, Baker Book House, Beyond Words Publishing, Blooming Rose Press, Book Publishing Co., Caliber Publishing, Canopy Publishing, Chelsea Green Publishing, Chronicle Books, Columbia University Press, Continuum International Publishing, Cornell University Press, Council Oak Books, Crestport Press, Dragonfly Media, Ecotone Publishing, Enjae Design & Marketing, Ezra’s Earth Publishing, Fairview Press, Free Spirit Publishing, Gibbs Smith Publisher, Hampton Roads Publishing, Harvard University Press, High Country News, Inner Ocean Publishing, Island Press, Jewish Lights Publishing, Krishnamurti Publications, Labrys Books, Lake Claremont Press, Lantern Books, Lost Horse Press, Michigan State University Press, Middleway Press, Milkweed Editions, Minnesota Historical Society Press, New World Library, Newmarket Press, Nova Publishing Co., Pamoon Press, Parallax Press, Pruett Publishing, Red Hills Writers Project, Seven Stories Press, Sierra Club Books, Snow Lion Publishing, Sorin Books, South End Press, Southern Illinois University Press, Steiner Books, Ten Speed/Celestial Arts/Tricycle, The Haworth Press, University of California Press, University of Georgia Press, University of Iowa Press, University of Minnesota Press, University of North Carolina Press, University of Notre Dame Press, Weatherhill, Wildcat Canyon Press, Wisdom Publications, World Resources Institute, World Tribune.
Printers That Stock Environmental Sheets
Capital City Press, Edwards Bros., Friesens, Houghton Boston, Lightning Source, Maple-Vail and Vail Ballou, P.A. Hutchison, Pinnacle Press, Sheridan Printing, Thompson Shore, Transcontinental, Vicks Lithograph, and Webcom.
Paper-makers That Offer a Variety of Recycled Sheets
Cascades, Domtar, Fraser Papers, Glatfelter, International Paper, New Age/Simon Miller, New Leaf, Rolland, Vision, and Weyerhaeuser.