The ‘Green’ TEAM
Therefore, like many paper-consuming industries in recent years, book publishers have found their environmental impacts coming under increasing scrutiny, and have been presented with, or have sought out, strategies for reducing them. What works best often depends on the size of a company, as well as specific manufacturing and supply chain considerations, making the equation of how best to be “green” without significant additional expense a complex one. The only thing certain is that, in an age when globalization equals a world of consumers concerned about the fate of the planet, dealing with the industry’s environmental footprint can no longer be put on the back burner.
Assessing the Real Impact
Any discussion of the best way to “green” the book industry has to begin with an understanding of the relative environmental impact of paper consumption. The image of old-growth tropical hardwoods being cut down by giant machines for pulp, furniture and building materials is a powerful one, but must be put alongside the fact that logging only accounts for about 20 percent of global deforestation, according to NASA Landsat data, with 65 percent coming from agriculture. (Animal and plant husbandry—the clearing of Brazil’s rainforest for ranching is a well-known example—has always been the No. 1 cause of forest loss.)
Then there’s the term “deforestation,” which in some contexts might well be replaced with the more precise “forest conversion.”
“… Harvesting followed by reforestation is not considered deforestation,” says Robert Cate Jr., director of corporate and environmental affairs at paper, pulp and forest products company AbitibiBowater Inc. “Deforestation is land-use change from forest type to nonforest type, such as urban sprawl and agriculture.”
By this definition, the paper industry has always practiced a form of sustainability in the forested land owned directly by the mills, notes J. Kirby Best, president & CEO at on-demand book manufacturer Lightning Source Inc.