The challenge of increasing the supply and affordability of environmentally preferable paper has a solution on the horizon: the Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT). This tool, a Web-based, interactive program, has been developed for evaluating the environmental performance of recycled papers.
The EPAT could not have come at a better time for the industry. While there is growing consumer demand for publishers and catalogers to lessen their impact on the environment, the use of recycled paper is still largely cost prohibitive. The EPAT aims to lower the cost of both buying and producing recycled paper by merging the information needs of paper buyers with those of suppliers. The non-profit organization Metafore —along with a coalition of 11 large-volume paper and paperboard buyers known as the Paper Working Group — helped create the tool.
Populated with standardized price, delivery and performance information from participating paper suppliers, the EPAT is expected to give paper purchasers sound, consistent data on which to base their buying decisions. In return, more predictable demand is likely to help suppliers improve their efficiencies and adjust their operations accordingly. The resulting economies of scale will bode well for paper purchasers.
The EPAT has been under development since the spring of 2003 and is scheduled for general release at the end of this year. Extensive testing and fine-tuning will be implemented by the newly formed EPAT Early Adopters Circle, a group of six major paper-purchasing organizations. Volunteer participants of this group include industry leaders Hearst Corporation, L.L. Bean, J.C. Penney, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and Office Depot, along with Quad/Graphics.
“We're pleased to have a role in developing this tool for the benefit of printing and publishing industries,” said Dave Blais, Quad/Graphics’ Vice President of Operations. “The EPAT will bring together much-needed information in a standardized format.”
Throughout the year, the Early Adopters Circle will pilot the prototype and influence the look, feel and functionality of the EPAT. Paper purchasers can look forward to the arrival of a universal tool that will naturally afford opportunities for the responsible use of resources.
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