The Greening of the Publishing Industry
New versus recycled. Petroleum- versus water-based. In the world of paper and printing, these distinctions go a long way toward defining just how a publisher and printer produce their products. And while most proponents of environmental welfare believe that producers of all goods share a responsibility to minimize damage, the pulp, printing and publishing industries have been long-time menaces. Educated by stalwart industry associations and governmental agencies, more users and vendors of publication paper are adapting enviro-friendly practices.
Years ahead of this awareness in the U.S., The Canadian Magazine Publishers Association (www.cmpa.ca) advocated recycling. When the group first issued a report more than 10 years ago about environmental concerns facing print publishers, an active approach was immediately embraced to remedy how to properly dispose of and lessen chemical use within the printing process, as well as modernizing pulp harvesting by decreasing toxic by-products. Several years later, the U.S.-based Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charted several studies about printing and publishing, in which it divided the paper and publishing industry into several main problematic categories: newspapers, magazines, books and catalogs. The EPA (www.epa.gov) also considered platemaking, bookbinding and associated services liable for environmental standardization of production and waste removal. According to EPA reports, "Printing and publishing is the largest conglomeration of small business in the domestic manufacturing sector." Because the industry has a history of using materials that affect air, water and land adversely, the EPA poised to do battle with all such users of chemicals within the U.S. global manufacturing sector.
"Certain chemicals involved in printing volatilize, contributing to air emissions from the facility and smog formation," notes the EPA. "Other chemicals may be discharged to drains and impact fresh water or marine ecosystems; and solid wastes contribute to the existing local and regional disposal problems."
Championing the cause
The EPA proposes that the best way to remedy land, water and air pollution is to prevent it. Last year, the EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced plans for the removal of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminates in a 39-mile section of the lower Fox river. Approximately 65,000 pounds of PCB sediment currently contaminates the silt of the river, which is a water source to the highest concentration of paper mills in the U.S. The PCBs were dumped in the river from 1954 to 1971 as by-products of carbonless paper production. Seven paper companies (collectively known as the Fox River Group) are being held responsible for the contamination. They are Appleton Papers, NCR, Fort James (now Georgia-Pacific), Glatfelter, Riverside Paper, Wisconsin Tissue Mills (now WTM1), and U.S. Paper Mills. Georgia-Pacific, which assumed responsibility for the Fort James spillage, along with Appleton Papers, allocated money to the NDR and EPA to start the cleanup. The funds were used for "sample dredging" to test certain techniques and for the purchase of land bordering the riverbanks.