The ‘Green’ TEAM
The four-color paperback books that are Scholastic’s stock and trade can only utilize so much post-consumer waste before the paper content begins to change the look and feel of the product, Serra notes.
“Four-color does not lend itself to high-content post-consumer waste,” she says. “The same is true for one-color, high-bulk paper, because when you add a lot of post-consumer waste to high-bulk, it doesn’t have the same look. The challenge is: how to increase the amount of recycled paper, but still increase bulk?”
“It isn’t just a matter of quality,” she adds, “but the formulation of that paper doesn’t lend itself to high volumes of post-consumer-waste content, which is why the [Environmental Protection Agency] has only a 10-percent minimum requirement for coated paper—and we are meeting that 10-percent minimum on most of our coated freesheet paper purchases.”
For Simon & Schuster, a primary factor is availability. “Our target for FSC-certified paper is, in large part, based on the availability of FSC paper in grades that are compatible with our current product mix,” D’Onofrio says.
As understandings of climate impacts become more sophisticated, even the normally unquestioned propriety of recycling has come under scrutiny.
“It’s so easy to jump on the recycled-paper bandwagon, but the recycling process might have a bigger carbon footprint than reusable forest products,” Best says. “If they’re driving it to pulping stations, the use of fossil fuels involved with that might exceed the benefit of it. That’s why research is so important.”
Miller notes, however, research has been done that takes into consideration pulp transportation, along with many other environmental parameters, and the results show that the benefits of using recycled paper outweigh the impacts of the processes involved in producing (and shipping) it.
“Companies are now asking, in terms of climate change, ‘Is it preferable to get virgin paper from Canada or recycled paper from China?’ How do we reconcile transportation emissions?’” says Beckhardt.