The ‘Green’ TEAM
The level of customer response has allowed the company to set an unprecedented goal: expanding its 100-percent post-consumer-waste product line, which represented 25 percent of overall sales in 2007, to 85 percent of sales by 2010.
The recycling push follows the introduction (in 2005) of a $10 million bio-gas program, which captures methane released by decomposing garbage and pipes it to one of the company’s mills, where it substitutes for natural gas.
“From an environmental perspective, that represents about 20,000 cars removed from the road annually,” Lecours says.
AbitibiBowater has made a “very serious effort” to expand recycling capabilities since 2000, Cate says, investing millions in modernized equipment and facilities. The company now offers more than 40 grades of paper with recycled content, with the amount of recycled fiber dependent on the grade, the location of mills and other factors.
Such a focus on making recycled content available to customers is an industrywide phenomenon, according to an environmental benchmark study under way by the GPI and the Book Industry Study Group, and scheduled for release in March at the Publishing Business Conference and Expo.
The study will show significant progress on the recycled-fiber front, according to Miller. While specific numbers could not yet be released, “There’s been a near tenfold increase in recycled-fiber use from printers, and for mills, an over fivefold increase in the past few years,” he reports.
Given the industrial footprint of forestry and paper production, recycled paper must continue to be a key component of reducing climate impacts going forward, Miller adds.
“The carbon emissions associated with forest harvest … and paper production combined is 10 times that associated with book manufacturing, transportation and distribution, and publisher travel and office energy consumption combined,” he says, “so publishers’ focus on using more recycled and FSC-certified paper is the right place to focus.”