Paper Waste a Gold Mine for Publishers
Electronic publishing was a key driver of business growth and change during the 90s, but paper and printing remain omnipresent. They continue to play a central role in every aspect of business.
Unfortunately, as paper use grows, paper waste rises. A myopic perspective on the value of managing paper waste, and misconceptions about what constitutes recycling, further complicates matters.
Publishers in particular have failed to grasp the opportunity that managing paper waste could have on their business, and the economy as well. Reducing basis weights and publication trim sizes are steps in the right direction.
But a significant percentage of newsstand distribution winds up in landfills, rather than being recovered. Few publishers manage paper waste and recycling in a manner that maximizes value to shareholders and other significant stakeholders.
According to Professor Stuart Hart, director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the Kenan Flagler School of Business, in Chapel Hill, N.C.: "Few executives realize that environmental opportunities might become a major source of revenue growth. Greening has been framed in terms of risk reduction, re-engineering, or cost cutting. Rarely is greening linked to strategy or technology development. As a result, most companies fail to recognize opportunities of potentially staggering proportions."
What do you think it means to recycle? And how does your company see paper waste? Is it garbage or a gold mine?
Leading companies understand that waste reduction and fiber recovery are important, but that more is required. It is also essential to close the loop on recycling, and purchase products that contain recycled content.
Waste paper recovery reduces the need for virgin materials. Regularly purchasing paper products with recycled content creates a healthy market for fiber recovery and recycling services. It also sends a powerful, positive message to employees, investors, environmental activists, and other stakeholders.
The British Broadcasting Company sets a good example. For the BBC, managing paper use and recycling are seen as important ways to reduce costs, increase shareholder value, and improve stakeholder relations.
In addition to taking a comprehensive approach to paper waste management, the BBC closes the loop on recycling by specifying recycled content in the office paper it buys. In addition, it requires the paper that BBC Wildlife Magazine is printed on to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (TinyURL.com/ATOU).
Waste of any kind represents lost profits, and inefficient use of resources. Publishers should take note of the growing use of paper in their businesses, and the rising pile of paper waste they are responsible for.
Paper waste reduction and fiber recovery reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses associated with the manufacture, transportation, and disposal of paper. According to the National Recycling Coalition, one ton of recycled paper uses 64% less energy, 50% less water, 74% less air pollution, saves 17 trees, and creates five times more jobs than a ton of paper products from virgin wood pulp.
The recycling and reuse industry in the United States consists of 56,000 establishments that employ 1.1 million people, generate an annual payroll of $37 billion, and gross $236 billion in annual revenues.
Recycled paper and paperboard mills have 139,375 employees, and generate $49 billion in annual receipts. Spending by employees of the recycling and reuse industry also contributes indirectly to economic well being, and adds another 1.5 million jobs with a payroll of $41 billion, producing receipts of $146 billion.
The recycling and reuse industry also generated roughly $12.9 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues, with 80% going to federal and state government.
Even if publishers can't make a business case for increasing recycled content in their products, making simple changes in how they use paper and handle waste can save money, and make a difference.
One way to cut paper use is to reduce office paper basis weight from 20 lb. to 18 lb. Other simple techniques: print duplex instead of simplex. Use electronic forms instead of paper forms. And use short-run, print-on-demand, and digital-printing technologies, instead of long-run offset printing.
To reap maximum benefits from paper waste management and recycling initiatives, businesses must involve every employee, including managers and top executives. For publishers in particular, it is important to include the entire supply chain. An effective paper waste management and recycling program also requires broad participation and day-to-day management. At the BBC, paper waste and recycling activities are overseen by Niel Jenkins, BBC's head of environmental management, who also has responsibility for enterprise environmental management systems, and reporting of environmental performance.
For most people, recycling is a matter of faith, duty, and responsibility. But while the spirit is willing, the flesh is often weak. Therefore, the less sorting, decision-making, and walking required, the more successful a program will be.
For those who contribute to the success of your program, the more consistent and meaningful the rewards and recognition they receive, the more valuable and viable the program will become.
Even though most executives and employees are positive and enthusiastic about the idea of recycling, the practice requires changing long-standing habits. Reinforcement is essential.
Kicking off a program with an event led by the chief executive, providing ongoing training, and developing a communications program to maintain enthusiasm are crucial. The next most important step is to investigate available recycling services, and identify markets for your office paper.
Before calling a recycling company, acquaint yourself with programs instituted by leading companies such as American Airlines, the BBC, Citigroup, and Kinko's. Also refer to model programs developed by federal state and municipal governments, such as the California Integrated Waste Management Board (TinyURL.com/ATP4).
And investigate model programs and partnership opportunities with not-for-profit organizations such as:
The National Recycling Coalition (TinyURL.com/ATP8)
The World Resources Institute (TinyURL.com/ATPH)
The Institute for Scrap and Recycling Industries (TinyURL.com/ATPK)
The Environmental Careers Organization (TinyURL.com/ATPO)
Once you've studied model programs, surveyed best practice examples, evaluated potential partners, and identified possible recycling service providers, take a disciplined approach to soliciting proposals and negotiating contracts for paper waste management and recycling services.
There are many types of organizations to choose from, and many approaches to implementing a program. The best fit will depend on several factors:
The location of your facilities.
The types and volumes of paper and other waste streams your facilities generate.
The kind of systems you have in place for environmental management.
The industry you're in.
The current condition of your relationships with stakeholders.
Guiding principles for a successful paper waste management and recycling program are:
Selecting partners and service providers with care.
Setting reasonable objectives and stretch goals.
Aligning the program with corporate strategy and environmental management systems.
Regularly communicating with stakeholders.
Keeping the program simple and easy to maximize participation.
Don Carli is president of Nima Hunter Inc., in New York.