Paper-Heavy Industries Confront Environmental Impact

Grand Raids, USA – At a three-day environmental workshop created by the Gravure Association of America, leaders in the publishing, retailing and forest industries met to discuss ways to sustain the forestry resources needed by all three groups.

At the workshop, held in Grand Rapids last week, forest sustainability was a common theme of presentations on forest management practices, certification programs and corporate responsibility. Among the participants were forestry companies like UPM and Stora Enso, retailers that rely heavily on catalogs, including J.C. Penney, Lands’ End and Macy’s, and publishers like Time and Hearst Enterprises.

“If you don’t know the environmental footprint of the paper you’re buying, you could make a big mistake,” said presenter Phil Riebel, Environmental Director for UPM North America. “You can’t rely on perception. For instance, the type of fiber-raw versus recycled-used to make your paper may have little to do with the overall environmental footprint.”

Reibel added that when processing and trucking recycled paper fibers are factored in, 100 percent recycled paper can at times be less environmentally friendly than using raw fiber from sustainably managed forests.

David Refkin, Time’s Director of Sustainable Development, said his company, the world’s largest magazine publisher, has been addressing climate change on several fronts. In addition to reporting on climate change issues for a range of its publications, including Time and Sports Illustrated, Refkin said Time will be working with its paper suppliers to reduce environmental impact. “We will be working on paper production, energy, distribution and recycling,” he said. “We won’t be sitting in our offices, asking our paper suppliers to do this alone; we’ll be working with them.”

“We need increased transparency and collaboration across the value chain,” said David Ford, CEO of Metafore. “Carbon reduction is the priority, but we also need a broad focus on evaluating the life cycle of paper.” At the workshop, Ford discussed the importance of certification as a way to assure paper buyers that their products are coming from well managed forests.

This event was the first in a three-year series of workshops hosted by the GAA dealing with environmental topics. Next year’s workshop will focus on energy efficiency and climate change.

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