Why don't more catalogers use recycled paper?
Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs, The Direct Marketing Association
My response is based not on a strict study of our membership, but conversations with our members. If the [recycled-paper] supply got larger, the price would drop.
For most of the members with whom we talked, the price of recycled stock is greater than the price of virgin paper. Some of our members have been able to negotiate with certain vendors in certain areas. But with members having such tight margins, just that little bit is enough for them to make the economic decision to not use recycled paper.
From what we can gather in discussions with catalog members, generally the problems that were there five years ago with recycled paper aren't there anymore. We've come a long way in five years, and the remaining issue is price.
It may be that the price is higher because there's not enough demand. I think in time it's going to change. There already are laws in some states in which they're forcing localities (through the pricing of trash collection) to recycle. That may help produce more product, reduce prices and make it more economically feasible. We at The DMA think that's going to happen. I think concerns on the landfill side will push more product into it.
We actually think there's going to be more use of recycled paper [in cataloging]. It's a means of shopping that uses a significant amount of paper, yet it also reduces the amount of auto traffic and malls built, and I think all of our members are very much aware of this. A goal for them would be to use recycled paper. It just needs to fit the economic equation, and for some of our members it doesn't right now.