The Cost of Environmental Responsibility
"Harry Potter" publishers receive praise and press coverage for using recycled paper; but can publishers be "green" without reaching deeper into their pockets?
Greenpeace International recently heaped praise upon the Canadian and German publishers of the "Harry Potter" series for using postconsumer-waste (PCW) recycled paper to publish "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"—the sixth book in the series, now said to be the fastest-selling book in history. And the praise got a lot of press coverage.
Raincoast Books, the Canadian publisher and distributor based in Vancouver, British Columbia, published the "Half-Blood Prince" using 100-percent PCW recycled paper, continuing a trend it set in 2003 when it published "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" on 100-percent PCW paper.
The German publisher, Carlsen Verlag, used 40-percent PCW recycled paper, and requisitioned the 60-percent virgin fiber used in producing the 2-million print run from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified sources, ensuring that strict sustainability standards have been met. According to Carlsen, it settled on 40-percent PCW recycled content after extensive laboratory work and preparation of several test products. The paper, which was developed by the Schleipen paper mill, is almost identical in quality with what was used previously, despite the high proportion of recycled fiber, according to the company. Given the scale of the project, Carlsen was able to switch to the new paper at complete cost parity.
The company says its use of PCW recycled and FSC-certified content was in response to the wishes of "Harry Potter" author J.K.Rowling to have the books printed on environmentally friendly paper whenever possible. It says it also used a paper produced according to stringent requirements on ecologically sound forest use and low water consumption for the previous "Harry Potter" books.
Greenpeace is now urging others to follow suit, including American "Harry Potter" publisher Scholastic Inc. "Scholastic is one of the largest 'Harry Potter' publishers in the world. If it had printed the book on 100-percent recycled paper, its 10.8 million print run could have saved 217,475 trees," says Pamela Wellner, Greenpeace senior campaigner.