Special Report: Sustainability & the Environment
The ever-so-common phrase “going green” means taking the three basic principles of sustainability and applying them everywhere you can in your organization. These principles, of course, are: Reduce — lower your waste and consumption; Reuse — using items multiple times for the same thing; and Recycle — giving something a second life.
Environmental stewardship is especially important because our industry is too often viewed as a culprit. The single biggest thing you can do is to better educate yourself. Ask questions about your production process and the materials that are being used. How much do you know about your paper? Where it came from and how it was made? What are your choices? How much do they cost? Do they achieve your objectives? Let’s look at the catalog production process and some ways to go green.
Know Your Fiber Sources
Paper can be made from either virgin fiber sources or recycled sources. When it comes to virgin fiber, you should understand the origin and be able to confirm that it comes from operations that practice sustainable forestry. Such techniques ensure there will be trees available for harvest at a future date, and also that the forest ecosystems will thrive.
There are several different forest certification programs, each with different requirements and objectives. While that makes it difficult to compare paper options, the fact that there are multiple organizations raising the issues may help increase compliance with one method or more. Asking questions communicates to your suppliers that you’re serious about considering these factors when deciding on paper.
Recycled paper is produced by adding recycled pulp to virgin pulp. (Because fibers wear out, it’s always necessary to supplement recycled pulp with virgin fiber.) There are two broad types of recycled material: preconsumer and postconsumer.
● Preconsumer material is collected prior to reaching its final user. A good example of this is printing waste. This type of material is easiest to recover and the least expensive to recycle because of the limited number of contaminants.