According to research done by nonprofit environmental group Co-op America, paper use is the fastest growing segment of the forest products industry. By 2020, “global production in the pulp, paper and publishing sector is expected to increase by 77 percent,” the group said in a recent report. If your company has developed a sudden interest in helping to moderate that growth by, for example, adjusting the level of recycled content in your magazine paper, there are a number of resources to consult for the best approach, as well as a number of publishers who have experience purchasing environmentally friendly paper.
“Having good partners is probably the best practice that you can have,” says Laura Hickey, senior director, production for the National Wildlife Federation, which started buying recycled paper in the late eighties. “By partners I mean your printers and paper merchant and also other publishers. There are a number of us who specialize if not in the purchasing of paper then the manufacturing and the impacts of the paper industry.”
What those partners will likely tell you is quality and price do not have to suffer. According to Hickey, mills will not inflict an upcharge for paper that contains up to 10 percent post-consumer waste. “Mills are already using recovered material,” she says. “The American Forest and Products Association has a recovered material goal of 55 percent by 2012. They need recycled post consumer waste to use as feed stock for the mills.” Indeed, most magazine paper already contains five percent post-consumer waste. So to make a quick impact, simply ask for another five percent;with no effect on costs.
Beyond that, charges begin to appear when recycled content exceeds 20 percent or more. “For the coated stocks it tends to be $1 per hundred weight for 20 percent,” says Hickey, who buys paper for the NWF’s three magazines that has 30 percent recycled content and is bleached with hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine. Despite the added environmental qualities, the NWF still saved $46,000 in 2004, according to a report published by Co-op America.
As for quality, paper with 10 percent recycled content is virtually the same as virgin paper. “That’s because modern day inking technology produces a recycled paper fiber of the same smoothness, brightness, opacity and cleanliness as virgin paper today,” says Hickey.