The Paper Problem
FOLIO: Green Report: Production
For socio-cultural reasonsâsome obvious, some notâthe kind of paper that publishers print their magazines on has become a barometer of sorts when considering how âgreenâ a magazine is.
Yet, of the 18,000 or so magazines printed in the United States, only 1 percent print on recycled paper consistently, according to Co-Op Americaâs Magazine Paper Project.
It is, for some publishers, one of the most intimidating parts of publishing a greener magazineâand, despite new technology, one rife with misconceptions.
âThere are only two differences in purchasing environmentally responsible paper instead of virgin fiber paper,â says Frank Locantore, director of the Magazine Paper Project. âThe questions you ask your supplier, and the resources available for information.â Negotiating price, testing the sheet and working with suppliers, Locantore says, is the same.
One of the most important steps in selecting environmentally-responsible paper is using a credible forest certification service such as the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure the paper fiber you are using is harvested sustainably and does not come from areas of social conflict or high conservation value forests.
Hearst, for instance, requires the paper mills it buys from to pursue and/or operate a third-party certified âChain of Custodyâ program to ensure that 100 percent of the fiber entering the mill complies with controlled logging standards. (At the end of 2007, about 97 percent of the paper Hearst bought was COC-certified, with a goal of reaching 100 percent this year.)
What Paper Should You Use?
First, Locantore says, the paper that publishers should not use are those that have no recycled content nor a virgin fiber component from areas of social conflict or endangered forests. The paper that publishers should use should have legitimate environmental characteristicsâsuch as recycled contentâand/or paper that is FSC-certified.
In terms of paper quality, recycled paper has evolved significantly in the last three years, with many suppliers offering high-quality, glossy finishes while still remaining environmentally friendly. Quality hardly has to be sacrificed to go green. Most recycled papers are available in both glossy and matte finishes, in all weights for text pages and cover stock.
The main thing to consider when choosing paper is knowing how much of the paper is post-consumer waste (paper that has reached its intended end-use consumerâsee accompanying sidebar below).
Presently, there is no standard for how much of the paper should be pre- or post-consumer. Ogden Publicationsâ Mother Earth News and Utne Reader use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Mansueto Venturesâ Fast Company and Inc. use 100 percent recycled paper with a minimum of 85 percent post-consumer recycled content. But most magazines going green, like American Media Inc.âs Shape, Natural Health and Plenty, have gone with 30 percent post-consumer waste paper. (Some paper manufacturers will even include up to 10 percent recycled pulp without notifying anyone because it doesnât affect cost or quality.)
Reducing trim sizes and basis weights will also reduce consumption and cost. Dwell recently made the switch to recycled paper and offset the price premium by reducing its trim size. Subscribers have taken a keen interest in the magazineâs impact on the environment, and are literally stopping by the office to learn more about itâa dozen people per month are given office tours, according to president and publisher Michaela OâConnor Abrams. âReaders want an alternative reading experience with green at the core,â she says.
Publishers should also work with paper suppliers on cleaning the production process to reduce chemical use. Locantore says that would involve eliminating the use of any chlorine or chlorine-compounds in the bleaching process, reducing reliance on non-renewable energy sources and moving towards more alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar.
Time Inc. has been monitoring its environmental impact to such a degree that it employs a director of sustainable development in David Refkin, who has become one of the magazine industryâs leaders in sustainability. âPart of my job is risk management and promoting positive change and turning it into a business opportunity,â he says. Time Inc. buys 500,000 tons of paper annually from 53 mills.
As part of an enterprise-wide sustainability effort, Refkin says that the company has boosted its certified sustainable forestry paper content. Currently, 70 percent of its fiber meets CSF standards, up 25 percent from 2002.
What Does Going Green Cost?
Making the switch to environmentally-friendly paper does not necessarily mean you will be paying more. Depending on your relationship with your supplier, it may cost more, less or about the same as standard, virgin fiber paper.
Plenty, a consumer title focused on âgreenâ lifestyle, is printed on 85-to-100 percent recycled, 30 percent post-consumer waste paper, which costs about 7.8 percent more than standard paper. âWe are paying approximately $4.00/cwt,â says Mark Spellun, Plentyâs publisher and editor-in-chief. For the cover stock, Spellun says the magazine pays about 2.2 percent more for the 10 percent PCW paper ($1.00/cwt). The remaining 70 percent of the paper used in Plenty is FSC certified. âSustainable business practices frequently cost more,â says Spellun. âBut there really is no alternative.â
When Surfer made the switch to recycled paper three years ago, it estimated the additional cost of printing would be about $100,000 a yearâan increase that forced the magazine to increase its cover price by $1.00 to $4.99.
What Kind of Ink is Green?
âGreen inkâ is very limited, Locantore says. While soy-based ink may sound environmentally-sustainable, the jury is out on âgreenâ ink, at least so far. Petroleum-based inks dry quicker than vegetable-based inks, thereby using less energy. âItâs near impossible for vegetable inks to dry adequately on a web press, which the majority of magazines use,â he says. There is also the unknown aspect of the Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) for vegetable inks, Locantore adds. âIs the production process for the LCA of the vegetable ink better than petroleum-based inks? Itâs not known yet.â
But that doesnât mean publishers arenât using it. All of Ogdenâs titles use 28.7 percent soy-based inks.
Post-Consumer or Pre-Consumer?
Post-consumer recycled paper is preferable because it forces there to be a mechanism and infrastructure to recover the used paper from office buildings, schools and neighborhoods. Pre-consumer recycled paper is also good, but that paper already has an infrastructure established to recover the paper. For instance, unsold magazines on the newsstand will be picked up by the distributor when the next issue comes out and recycledâthis is considered âpre-consumer,â as the magazine has not reached its intended end-use in the hands of a consumer. A magazine purchased and read at home, tossed into a recycling bin and turned into recycled paper is âpost-consumer.â
Green Publishing Standards: Magazine paper should contain recycled waste, with 30 percent post-consumer waste a realistic goal (10 percent post-consumer content should be considered minimum). Using virgin fiber for your âgreen issueâ sends a terrible message to your readers and the industry.
What You Can Do to Be Green: Use a credible forest certification service such as the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure the paper fiber you are using is harvested sustainably. Actively manage all aspects of your supply chain to reduce your magazineâs impact on the environment.
Resources: Forest Stewardship Council; Co-Op Americaâs Magazine Paper Project; the Magazine Publishers of Americaâs 2008 Environmental Handbook
âGreenâ Issues Fail to Convert Magazines to Recycled Paper
Despite a green cultural movementâreal or perceivedâand a spate of so-called âgreen issues,â magazines have largely failed to convert to recycled paper.
There are about 100 magazines currently printing on recycled paper, says Frank Locantore, director of the Magazine Paper Project for Co-Op America. Locantore says cost, misconceptions about cost and general ignorance of publishers have contributed to the lack of conversion.
Even a large number of âgreen issuesâ arenât printed on sustainable paper, something Locantore says is the ultimate irony. And even when they do, most magazine publishers donât continue the practice for their non-green issues. Nonetheless, he says, thereâs a momentum building for magazines to continue to demand green alternatives from their paper suppliers.
Rachael Ray Goes (Dark) Green
While many publishers seem to drag their feet on converting to recycled paper, Readerâs Digestâs Every Day with Rachael Rayâone of the industryâs biggest success stories of the decadeâmade a game-changing switch last November to 85 percent recycled paper with a minimum of 10 percent post-consumer.
During a presentation at the Publishing Business Conference in March this year, Readerâs Digest paper manager Brian Schwarze touted the benefits of their switch to recycled paper: each year they save 125,000 trees, 7,800 pounds of hazardous air pollutants, 380 garbage trucks of solid waste, and over 25 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent worth of greenhouse gases.
Additionally, the magazine is switching mills to one closer to its printer. âThe new mill (outside of Chicago) is 160 miles from the printer (Quad, in Lomira, Wisconsin) compared with the old mill that was 1,060 miles awayâthatâs a savings of 900 miles one way,â the company explains. âThat reduces emissions. Contrast that with some magazine papers that are trucked across the country or imported from Europe. Also, the mill is working with the printer on a closed loop system, so when they deliver the Rachael Ray paper the same truck would then be loaded up with the printed waste and shipped back to the mill.â
âThe press waste from the printing of Rachael Ray will go back into the actual paper being produced for a future issue. Makes sense, but understand that this is not the typical process in the industry.â
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