Archive for the ‘ green printing ’ Category

FSC is at a Crossroads

Having been in the industry for 35 years, one tends to see many fads and fashions come and mostly go by the wayside. We have seen foil stamping become a “must use” design feature for high-end coated products, recycled papers spike and plummet in popularity and most recently the advent of certified paper, pulp and wood products. Based on my own observations, it looks like the FSC products are headed in the same downward direction.
I would say there are a few very logical reasons for this.

First, when the heart and the wallet collide in a conflict of objectives, the wallet wins 98% of the time. If a designer or publisher is faced with “being green” or not publishing an issue, they will skip going green. And let’s face it, many publications are barely hanging on by their fingertips, hoping to sell enough ad space to turn a profit.

Secondly, FSC is making it cost prohibitive for printers to continue to pay for an annual audit and certification without the benefit of an increase in Revenue. Once again, if I am going to lose a very small amount of business if I am not certified, why pay the expense in a down economy with predatory pricing?

Thirdly, many customers eyes gloss over when you try and explain how the process works. Other have not even heard of it. So – why should my Salesforce be educating the marketplace, when that should be the job of the certifying body?

The fate of certified papers is still undecided by the marketplace – but its’ prominence is diminishing daily.

November 22, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO—Nov. 22, 2010— ForestEthics has released a report said to uncover the Sustainable Forestry initiative’s (SFI) industry-sponsored greenwashing in marketing wood and paper products. Titled “SFI: Certified Greenwash”, the report asserts that the SFI label primarily serves the interests of the timber, paper and forest products industries. Its centerpiece is a two-page infographic depicting the web of influence through which those industry interests dominate SFI.

“Greenwash is deception pure and simple,” said Aaron Sanger of ForestEthics. “Our report exposes SFI’s greenwash, an industry-sponsored scam that threatens our forests, communities, fresh water and wildlife.”

Among the report’s findings:

• Virtually all of SFI’s funding comes from the paper and timber industries.

• SFI’s most commonly used label, the Fiber Sourcing label, requires no chain-of-custody tracking of a product’s content or origins.

• Out of 543 audits of SFI-certified companies since 2004, not one acknowledges any major problem on issues—such as soil erosion, clearcutting, water quality, or chemical usage—that should be the focus of a ‘sustainable forestry’ program.

• In one case, the SFI audit team—which included only two auditors—spent just five days assessing an area larger than the entire state of Pennsylvania. They reported no violations of SFI standards and didn’t identify so much as a single opportunity for improvement.

• Board members representing SFI’s environmental and social sectors include Mike Zagata, former NY Gov. Pataki’s “most controversial agency head”, and Marvin Brown, who this October resigned as Oregon state forester amid accusations that his department conducted and tolerated environmentally-harmful forestry practices.

In March, ForestEthics mailed letters to Fortune 500 companies that rely heavily on direct mail to market their products and services, including companies from the insurance, financial services and telecommunications sectors. Citing public controversy about SFI’s deceptive “green” marketing practices, the letters offer ForestEthics’ expertise to help companies find legitimate ways to improve and promote the environmental attributes of their products.

Source: Press release.

I am very weary of hearing “experts” tout the global environmental damage done by print media. This issue is so emotionally charged that reason, logic and facts are ignored for the convenience of appearing to be “green” and pushing a political cause. Here are a few FACTS that should not be ignored:

  • 4,000,000 trees are planted daily in the U.S. – 4 Million per day! (1) More than 1.5 billion trees are planted in the U.S. each year, almost half of them by the forest community. (2)
  • 57% of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2008. (3) Compare that to the 18% of the three million tons of electronic waste in the U.S. being recycled. (4)
  • 48% of the energy used in New Page mills (largest domestic mill) comes from renewable bio-fuels. (5)
  • 24% Annual Growth of energy consumption at U.S. data centers – servers use lots of energy! (6)
  • 42% reduction in energy use per product unit by the U.S. pulp and paper industry in 25 years. (7)
  • 12% of all CO2 emissions in the U.S. come from aircraft. (8)
  • 62 Trillion Spam emails are sent every year, contributing greenhouse gases equivalent to two billion gallons of gasoline. (9)

(Spam also clogs the internet’s arteries, it takes energy to generate, screen and delete spam. Tough to measure, but it stands to reason. Think of the sheer volume worldwide. 186 million web sites, 1.3 billion e-mail users, 24 hours a day. Every day. Do the math. The energy that Spam email generates annually has the carbon footprint of driving a car around the globe 1.6 million times. {9})

  • We have 12 Million more acres of U.S. forestland today than 20 years ago (10).
  • Over 200 million items of e-waste are thrown away every year in the U.S.: Monitors, printers, computers (4).
  • 70% of toxic waste in U.S. landfills comes from e-waste. (4)
  • Burning a CD produces 4 times as much CO2 as printing a single annual report. (11 & 12)

    More than ever, it’s important to find the right balance between the environment and your communications budget. And please consider the facts the next time you engage in dialogue about the “evils” of print media.

1. Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program
2. Hardwood Plywood & Veneer Association
3. Environmental Defense Paper Calculator
4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
5. NewPage Corporation, Miamisburg, OH
9. McAfee, The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam Report
10. Forest Landowners Association

As mentioned in the last article, most certification programs focus on the adherence to a codified standard, without really benefiting the printing industry or the clients we serve. This may be about to change. The newest standard, SGP is a combination of continuous improvement programs and socially responsible printing. According to the SGP’s web site:

“The mission of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership is to encourage and promote participation in the worldwide movement to reduce environmental impact and increase social responsibility of the print and graphic communications industry through sustainable green printing practices…

The SGP Partnership recognizes the following sustainable business practices as guiding principles to ensure continued viability and growth:

  • Employ, wherever and whenever possible, materials derived from renewable resources or with low environmental impact, maximizing recycling and recovery efforts with efficient utilization of renewable energy.
  • Encourage the adoption of changes within the supply chain by strongly recommending the use of raw materials that do not threaten or harm future generations.
  • Educate the customer and ultimate consumer regarding the benefits of a restorative economy.

Printers can be listed as a certified SGP Printer by meeting a set of criteria to establish performance standards.”

So, on a practical basis, if I develop an internal program to use less proofing paper and replace them with soft proofs displayed on a color calibrated monitor at the press, I have a qualified SGP project. The net result is that I save money by using less materials, and the environmental impact of our operations is lessened as well. That’s a definite win-win ! Now’s there’s a certification I can embrace, that can have a real impact on operations of printers everywhere.

If you step back in time and look at the evolution of the industry in the last 30 years, it’s somewhat revealing. It demonstrates an industry rocked by technology changes, realigned by mergers and acquisitions, and shaken by various new forms of media and content distribution.

But there is still one theme that all surviving companies seem to have in common: they listen to their customers and provide value beyond a commodity price. These same customers have experienced, with us, what I call the “craze of the day”. Sometimes they are even a part of the “craze creation”. Whether it is a designer wanting 3 varnishes and 2 coatings on a cover, or a paper buyer wanting recycled paper with those
“tiny specks” or a certain certification that they feel will guarantee a certain quality level, clients have helped to form the latest trends in the industry. However, what did all of this do for the health of the industry? What did this do for lessening the environmental impact of print?
Did the quality level in the industry really improve because of ISO 9000 programs? I would argue that none of these programs accomplished very much by themselves.

For the most part, ninety percent of Customers never cared about ISO 9000 certification. If you matched the proofs on press and shipped them a good product that matched their needs, they could care less about SOP’s, Corrective Action Requests or any of the elements of ISO standard. FSC certification will probably become generic: everyone will have it, most papers will be it, and clients will care less. It will become an assumption of the way business is done in a new “green world”. Recycled papers were a fad somewhat, that has died down dramatically, because clients did not want to pay more for their project or a printer educated them in the use of chemicals required to create recycled stocks.

However, there is a new certification/standard that is on the rise that may actually be beneficial to the printer, the customer and the world at large. It is called Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). How is it beneficial? Well,  in my opinion any new technology, certification or initiative a business undertakes should accomplish one of these (otherwise it is not worth doing):

  1. Lower material costs – use less waste and /or  lower priced materials without affecting quality.
  2. Lower labor costs – more efficient employees, faster equipment
  3. Less environmental impact at the same net cost – the Social Responsibility of every business
  4. Provide for a safer work environment
  5. Enhance quality at the same net cost (“Quality is Free” concept)

The newest certification, SGP can actually pay for itself if implemented properly, unlike any other certification that I have seen.

More to come tomorrow…

How is Paper Recycled?

According to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), 55 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2007. This significant achievement was made possible by the millions of Americans who recycle at home, work, and school every day. In fact, if measured by weight, more paper is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than all glass, plastic and aluminum combined. Additional good news: every ton of paper recovered for recycling saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

Paper Recycling Starts with Us

Paper recycling begins with you and me. The paper recycling process begins at any number of locations, including community curbside programs, drop-off centers, schools or offices. Regardless of where the recycling process starts, it is important to understand what materials can be recovered in your community and how to properly prepare them for recycling.

How Is Paper Recycled Once Collected?
After it is collected, recovered paper is transferred to a recycling center, or Material Recovery Facility (MRF), where it is sorted into its different grades and “contaminants” such as trash, glass, plastics and metals are removed. Once the recovered paper is properly sorted and free of contaminants, it is compacted into large bales and transported to a paper mill where the recycling process begins. To begin the papermaking process using recovered fiber, the fiber is shredded and mixed with water to make a pulp. The pulp is washed, refined and cleaned, then turned to slush in a beater. The process of papermaking from that point forward is essentially the same whether or not recovered fiber is used.

Can Paper Continue To Be Recycled?
Each time paper is recycled, the fiber length decreases, which impacts its strength. It is estimated that paper has approximately seven generations, meaning it can be recycled up to seven times. Because paper is made from a renewable resource, introducing new, or “virgin” fiber into the process is a logical answer. Today approximately 80 percent of the nation’s paper mills use some recovered fiber in the production of new paper and paperboard products.
Further, the U.S. forest products industry plants an average of 1.7 million trees every day—five new trees for every tree harvested. Thanks to the responsible forestry practices of U.S. companies, the amount of standing timber in U.S. forests has increased by nearly 40 percent over the past half-century and by 10 million acres since 1990.

Nittany Valley Offset, a leading Mid-Atlantic and New England printing company, has introduced two major green printing initiatives in response to growing interest in print procurement that meets sustainability practices. The firm now provides printed materials that meet the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard for environmentally responsible procurement procedures. In addition, they now print with an eco-friendly ink, which is rated very high in the newest environmental impact index adapted by the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM).

Spurred by the growing need for high quality, four color printed materials that are both supplied at cost effective prices and produced in an environmentally responsible printing plant, Nittany Valley Offset (NVO) now helps clients preserve natural resources, conserve energy usage, and reduce toxins emitted into the air and water.

“Our operation is a far cry from the simple use of recycled paper with post consumer fiber,” said Robert Butkins, President of Nittany Valley Offset. “The criteria for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification require creating manufacturing systems which demonstrate the company is fully committed to sustainable forestry practices.” NVO also uses low-VOC based inks. NAPIM established an “Eco Task Force” that developed and launched the NAPIM Bio-Derived Renewable Content (BRC) Labeling Program this year. NVO’s ink has been certified by NAPIM with a BRC Index of 70, which relates to the percentage of bio-based, renewable raw materials contained in the product. Since the percentage includes not only soy oil, but any other vegetable oils used in the ink, it reflects a much more accurate impact rating system. Nittany Valley Offset customers can request the use of product logos from FSC, the Rainforest Alliance or BRC, given their willingness to print on an FSC certified paper. This allows their clients to demonstrate their commitment to the environment in their print procurement practices.

The FSC’s Chain of Custody certification is only awarded to organizations that manufacture, process or trade in forest products and can demonstrate they adhere to responsible sourcing practices by complying with forest sustaining procurement policies. FSC sets environmental standards for responsible use of forestry resources and is widely recognized by corporations and governmental entities around the world.

As I have told a few merchants, this is a very, very bad time for any manufacturer to be raising prices. The assumption that the industry can merely “pass it on ” is very naïve. In this market and given our products, when I see any cwt price rising 10-15%, I cringe. Why? Because above our current prices either:
a. I am eating some/all increases in paper cost or
b. We do not get the work without discounting labor.

The last thing I want to do is discount labor right now. So, if our price is high, we have to run roll stocks at lower prices. That is simply reality for us to increase market share, add incremental volume.

This new economy in a nutshell for printers:

“The market dictates prices, regardless of what an estimate or supplier cost may say / be. The key to success is figuring out how to produce the product for a profit, at an acceptable market price. The ONLY logical and sane way to do that is lower your material costs. An endless discounting of labor is why the sheriff has visited the doors of so many printers… “

What the mills do not want to acknowledge is the economic state of the industry. These kinds of actions simply cause me to look elsewhere for supply lines. I’ll run like hell into the arms of a foreign company if I am stabbed in the back by my “domestic partners”. When it comes down to “survival”, which is where the industry is, NVO and all others will look to foreign sheets now more than ever. I cannot raise prices, nor pass on these types of increases. I have contracts that are locked in. These prices increases will simplyhave the reverse effect they think they will have. Business is down, so I raise my prices? Huh ? Anyone ever hear of the elasticity of supply, price and demand? You CANNOT “price increase your way into Revenue growth”,  when demand is down. People use alternatives, and in our case foreign sheets, or EVEN WORSE they drop print and use NEW MEDIA, because print is rising in cost in a down economy. This is just a plain stupid strategy, from a marketing and financial viewpoint. It’s also ironic, given all the emphasis on “green printing”, “the power of print”, etc…and then create a strategy that cause people to run away from your products. Not very bright. It is insane to raise prices to try and cover Revenue losses because the industry is down 20-30%. They need to lower their costs of production, like everyone else. Renegotiate union agreements.  Downsize. Do more with less. That is what every other industry has to do…
Chile is very transparent excuse, as are a myriad of other excuses to raise prices. This is a HUGE disservice to the industry. And I think, damaging to mills in the long run. The world has changed in the last 18 months. The industry has changed. But it’s the “same olde game” with paper manufacturers. In the meantime – clients are cutting print budgets left and right, reallocating resources to New Media. And the paper industry is putting another nail in their own coffin by raising prices,  MAKING and daring customers to leave them. Arrogance is also not a wise strategy. I am all for supporting domestic firms, and always do whenever possible. BUT when they fail to recognize the damage they incur to their “Business partners”, I have no hesitation in making any foreign firm wealthy, since the domestic firm could care less about the domestic  industry they allegedly serve. Sure makes me look at foreign sheets, regardless of what tariffs may be in place. And, regardless of body, gloss, or runnability – CLIENTS WANT LOWER PRICES… ALL ELSE IS SECONDARY IN THIS NEW AND LASTING ECONOMIC MODEL. This is not a “blip on the screen”. The industry and the economy have changed forever. It’s time the paper industry changed their pricing and expense perspective, before they turn themselves and the industry into buggywhips.