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.
Kyle Good, Scholastic's vice president of corporate communications and media relations, says, "There is some recycled content in the 'Harry Potter' books, and most importantly, we only use paper that is derived from fiber that does not endanger ancient forests." The company would not comment on the percentage of recycled content in its books, including "Harry Potter."
Raincoast, which reports 95 percent of its text-based books are printed on ancient-forest-friendly paper, sees its efforts for the responsible use of natural resources as an important aspect of the company's longevity.
It believes that since adopting its in-house environmental policy in 2001, its preferential use of ancient-forest-free, chlorine-free, 100-percent postconsumer paper has helped reduce costs and increase availability of such paper stocks.
This may be the case for other companies as well, but to print on environmentally friendly papers, some publishers have to pay more. In a recent industry survey conducted by BookTech Magazine, 34 percent of publishers said they are paying more for environmental papers.
There are publishers, however, who have found a way to improve their environmental footprint, at least in their paper choices, without reaching deeper into their pockets. The BookTech study showed 17 percent are achieving cost parity using environmental papers.
Going 'Green' Without Spending More
The University of California Press publishes more than 500 new and reprint titles per year, and more than half are manufactured using paper with high levels of recycled content and/or FSC-certified content for no additional cost.
Anthony Crouch, production director, (and this year's PrintMedia Hall of Fame inductee; see page 19 for the full story), says, 'We rarely have to pay a premium for the use of these papers. We did initially incur a small mark-up, but today our volumes have increased to the point that we often achieve parity with non-environmentally responsible papers."
Crouch has also witnessed a "domino effect," where, like Raincoast, his volumes and stocking agreements lower prices for other publishers who then can use the paper and add to the collective volume—thereby creating the necessary efficiencies to keep the costs down.
According to Paperloop.com, while recycled pulp pricing can cost more than virgin pulp, it also has been equal and sometimes lower than virgin pulp. Paperloop's June figures show:
• Deinked 100-percent PCW Market pulp/contract: $590-$645 per metric tonne (delivered);
• Northern Bleached Hardwood Kraft/contract: $610-$630;
• Southern Bleached Hardwood Kraft: $600-$620;
• Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft/contract: $630;
• Southern Bleached Softwood Kraft: $610.
Budgeting for Social Responsibility
Some publishers who pay more for environmentally friendly papers find ways to justify the higher costs.
New York-based Lantern Books produces 25 titles each year—almost all of them on 100-percent postconsumer recycled paper. According to Publisher Martin Rowe, "We began our business looking to be as environmentally friendly as possible. We no longer bother looking at the costs of virgin fiber. We make sure our margins are good and our pricing adequate, and take it from there.
"We [meet our economic goals] by making sure our retail prices reflect the value of the book, we try to sell as many books as possible, and we keep other costs down," explains Rowe.
Avalon Publishing Group's California Division produces 120 titles each year. At some printers, the company pays a bit more—averaging 1 cent to 5 cents per book. According to Production Director Jane Musser, a key to success is "shopping around to different printers, and impressing upon existing printers that their investment in recycled stock is critical to keeping our business."
The company meets its economic goals by doing a cost analysis on every book. "If, based on projected sales, we're able to pay a bit more for printing on recycled paper, we try to do so," says Musser. "There are some books where any additional expense isn't possible. Getting bids from a range of printers gives us a better idea of who's got what kind of paper at what kind of prices."
Looking for more news and information on environmentally friendly publishing?
Visit the Web site, "Environmental Sustainability in Printing and Publishing" at www.SustainPrint.com.