Green Printing-The New Bottom Line
Many forget that little over a century ago, when paper was primarily made from recycled rags, arguments raged about whether paper made from wood pulp was fit for use as a printing substrate. Today over 3.5 million people are employed in the wood pulp, paper, and paper converting industries worldwide and magazine publishers are responsible for buying over 1 million tons of paper made primarily from virgin wood fiber each year. That's a small slice of the more than 100 million tons of paper used annually in the United States. But responsible magazine publishers can have an impact on the paper market far greater than the megatons of paper they buy at present.
In the words of John Mack Carter, former editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping, "A magazine is not just a pound of paper. A magazine is a bunch of people with special interests and ideas communicating with a larger group who share the dedication to those interests." Magazines inform and entertain us. They shape our culture and our consumption patterns with editorial and advertising.
Approximately 12 billion magazines are printed annually in the U.S. According to a recent Magazine Publishers of America study, the top 25 magazines reach more adults than the top 25 TV programs and Web sites combined. That's a lot of power and influence.
With that power and influence comes responsibility for thinking strategically about what the product—magazines—are made of. Such responsibility calls for strategies that balance the "triple bottom line" goals of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social justice. This will require a new sensitivity to the interests of investors, customers, employees, suppliers, environmental groups, regulators and other stakeholders. It will also require new skills in life-cycle cost analysis, environmental accounting and supply chain environmental management.
Over the past 30 years, the forestry and paper industries have made great strides in improving their environmental performance. And many have made significant commitments to sustainability's triple bottom line goals. Driven by government, private-sector and voluntary initiatives, paper recovery rates have risen from 23% in 1970 to over 45% in 2001. Yet papermaking remains the third largest industrial use of fossil fuels, and the #1 industrial use of water per pound of product. Scarcity of these resources is expected to increase as demand for paper is expected to grow 50% by the year 2010. Consumer, investor and stakeholder pressure for corporate environmental responsibility is also mounting.