The Push for a ‘Greener’ Industry
When the mayor of New York, a high-ranking city commissioner and other Big Apple bigwigs gather at the Empire State Building for a press conference, you can usually expect the announcement of some big public works project, such as a new skyscraper. What brought these dignitaries together Jan. 30, however, was a different sort of public works: a campaign to encourage recycling among the city’s 8 million residents, led by a $3 million advertising blitz that will put posters on buses and subways, as well as commercials in movie theaters and on Time Warner cable channels.
That this project, dubbed ReMix (for “recycling magazines is excellent”), was spearheaded by Time Inc. will not come as a surprise to those who have followed the company’s efforts in recent years to encourage consumer recycling.
“While some regions do better than others, throughout America, only one in six magazines gets recycled,” says David Refkin, Time’s director of sustainable development. “As the largest magazine publisher in the U.S., we decided we had to do something about this.”
Time brought in a coalition of stakeholders, including paper company Verso Paper, the National Recycling Coalition and the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), to launch ReMix, first in Boston in 2004 and later in the Washington D.C. metro area, Portland and Milwaukee. The program works with municipalities and other local governments, many of whom lack the funds necessary to sponsor their own recycling-awareness campaigns.
Boston was very enthusiastic, Refkin reports, because “right now [paper waste] ends up in the trash and goes on a rail car to South Carolina to get buried in a hole in the ground. It costs $93 a ton to get it there, where it emits methane [as it decomposes], which is a really nasty greenhouse gas.”
That scenario illustrates why, as a matter of both environmental stewardship and public policy, it is important for publishers to take the lead.