A final point is that for those catalogs that use recycled paper, some are starting to employ that as a marketing tool. If customers start shopping from certain catalogs because they use recycled paper, that'll change things, too.
Victoria Mills, project manager, Alliance for Environmental Innovation
The Direct Marketing Association has stated in the past that 'an adequate supply of recycled paper is simply not available.' This is not true. Almost all major suppliers offer sheets with 10-percent postconsumer recycled content or higher. Catalog companies usually have a choice of suppliers that can match their specifications in a recycled sheet.
And there's plenty of supply; there's significant overcapacity to produce deinked pulp, the key ingredient in recycled paper. In our capacity study last year, we found that North American deinked pulp producers were operating at an average rate of 73 percent. Almost all said they could easily expand their production to meet an increase in demand for recycled paper, and did not believe that sourcing the additional wastepaper would be a problem.
We also disagree with The DMA's statement that the use of recycled paper is not cost-effective at this time. Contrary to popular belief, recycled paper is not always more expensive than virgin paper. It depends on the grade, the supplier, tonnage and other factors. Prices for recycled paper are negotiated, just like prices for virgin paper. It's somewhat easier to find a price parity in coated freesheet than lightweight coated and supercalendered grades; however even there it's not impossible.
The DMA's statement implies that catalogers should wait for recycled-paper costs to come down before they switch. While it's true that in some cases recycled paper costs more to make than virgin paper, those cost differences are as much a result of the lack of demand as the other way around.