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Industry Insight

AAP Details Sustainability Issues for Publishers in "Handbook on Book Paper and the Environment"

Those struggling to keep up with the issues and terminology of sustainable printing will find much of the information they’re seeking in Handbook on Book Paper and the Environment,

By Patrick Henry
Published: April 18, 2008

Those struggling to keep up with the issues and terminology of sustainable printing will find much of the information they’re seeking in Handbook on Book Paper and the Environment, a recent report from the Paper Issues Working Group of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The 61-page document is the product of a 30-month study of governmental and environmental issues as they relate to book paper production. Paper manufacturers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and trade groups including Printing Industries of America took part in discussions that led to the development of the report, which was released in February.

Intended as a resource for book publishing professionals, the handbook supplies straightforward definitions and succinct summary descriptions in every major area of interest for environmentally-minded book producers. Covered are recycling, including pre- and post-consumer recycled fiber distinctions; carbon footprints; forestry; certification standards; paper recycling methods and economics; chain of custody; worldwide practices and economic impacts; green production efforts; and reducing consumption and waste. The report also contains a helpful FAQ section, a thorough glossary, and an extensive list of links to reference organizations.

An eight-page Executive Summary also is available, but taking in what the longer version offers will be well worth the time spent perusing it. It’s a balanced, factual report that doesn’t understate either the desirability or the difficulty of transitioning to environmentally favorable book papers.

We learn, for example, that using 30% recycled uncoated paper in place of 100% virgin-fiber paper reduces the ecological footprint of a ton of paper by five trees, 324 pounds of solid waste, 3,059 gallons of water, 2.1 pounds of suspended particles in the water, 904 pounds of air emissions, and 2,472 cubic feet of natural gas (page 8). Later, though, we’re advised that recovered paper consumption in North America has been flat since 2000 and that paper collection rates in the U.S. are too small to harvest enough of the high-quality recovered paper that’s needed to drive production of better-quality recycled grades (pages 32-33).

Providing access to many tools such as the impact-measuring Paper Calculator from the Environmental Defense Fund, the handbook should be a great help to anyone devising a business strategy for sustainability—or just striving to be better informed personally about a movement that is reaching out to touch every aspect of printing and publishing. Here’s a vote of thanks to AAP for doing the hard work of making the essentials easy for the rest of us to learn in this valuable digest.


Patrick Henry, Executive Editor for WhatTheyThink.com is also the director of Liberty or Death Communications, a consultancy specializing in research, education, promotional, and editorial support services for the printing and publishing industries.

Patrick Henry is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us here.

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.

 

Discussion

By Mark on Apr 21, 2008

The report makes a significant statement about recycled content that should be discussed and perhaps debated. It notes that "up-cycling" is the "recycling of waste materials into more valuable products", such as using de-inked newsprint to make coated groundwood paper. Here's the kicker: "Parity or up-cycling of fibers wastes an additional 400 pounds of fiber per ton to make high-quality recyled fiber." That makes it sound as if using post-consumer waste to make coated papers is bad for the environment if it diverts that waste from a lower-value product like cardboard.

 

By Tom Wetjen on Apr 21, 2008

Hats off to the Association of American Publishers and partners for the development of this report. Such resources are really helpful in pointing the book publishing industry in the right direction when it comes to environmental sustainability. Since Xerox’s business is essentially putting ink on paper, many people may be surprised to know that we are very committed to the environment. In fact, as both a supplier and a partner to the publishing community, Xerox has a long history of providing solutions that not only generate revenue for our customers, but are also environmentally responsible.

In the interest of sharing information, I’d like to encourage you to check out http://www.xerox.com/about-xerox/citizenship/enus.html which has a host of information about how print providers supporting the book publishing industry can become more green TODAY.

The issue of protecting the environment certainly goes beyond paper use, but resources such as the handbook mentioned in your post are a great start at getting us all involved in preserving resources and making sure every element of our business – from the supply chain through to the workflow and technology we use – are helping support an environmentally sustainable future.

 

By Greta on Apr 22, 2008

Upcycling is not "bad for the environment." The point made in the Handbook is that downcycling results in higher yield than upcycling and does not require bleaching. In a market where demand for recycled fiber is high and supply is tight, downcycling may be a more efficient use.

 

By greta on Apr 22, 2008

Upcycling is not "bad for the environment." The point made in the Handbook is that downcycling results in higher yield than upcycling and does not require bleaching. In a market where demand for recycled fiber is high and supply is tight, downcycling may be a more efficient and cost-effective use of this resource.

 

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