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Go for the Green—Part II - 10/20/2009 -

If your association is ready to go beyond simply giving green publishing a little lipservice, here's the nitty gritty of what you need to do.

By Dale Adams

(Editor's note: Review part one of this article series.)

So, you are interested in becoming a "green” association publisher?

In part one of this article series, we talked about the importance of maximizing recycled paper content and using certified virgin fibers. However, in addition to maximizing recycled- and certified-fiber content, it is important to make sure that you support paper manufacturing and publication printing processes that are as green as possible. Suggested steps include choosing environmentally responsible paper manufacturers and printers and asking vendors to quote print jobs to minimize environmental issues.

Some paper manufacturers do more to protect the environment, using the most advanced technologies, the most efficient mill operations, and the most effective environmental management systems. There is no comprehensive ratings program for the paper industry, so you'll need to do some research before choosing a paper company and a paper product. These sites will help:

  • Conservatree. Conservatree's website offers a comprehensive listing of environmental papers of all grades—from tissue to newsprint to printing and writing—with data for each brand on recycled content, FSC and other certification labeling, and the bleaching process used.
  • World Wildlife Fund's Paper Toolbox. WWF's Paper Toolbox site offers The WWF Guide to Buying Paper and a Paper Scorecard that you can submit to paper companies. The site also lists European paper companies that have completed the scorecard and have had their responses verified by a third-party auditor.

To choose a responsible printer, you can go to the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership's site, but the organization is relatively new and has certified only a small number of printers. You'll need to ask printers directly about their recycling, pollution-control, and energy- and resource-conservation efforts. Most will have a prepared data sheet ready for this request. Among the items on that sheet should be a description of an environmental (or sustainability) management system, such as one meeting the requirements of ISO 14001.

Your printing-job specs will include recycled-content and FSC requirements, but these specs will also help:

  • Bleaching. The paper should come from pulp whose bleaching was preferably either totally chlorine free (if virgin fiber) or processed chlorine free (if recycled fiber), but it should at least be elemental chlorine free (because dioxin is a byproduct, elemental chlorine bleaching has been phased out in the United States, but it still makes up 20 percent of kraft pulp bleaching worldwide).
  • Inks. Vegetable-based inks contain fewer toxic compounds than do petroleum-based inks.
  • Coatings. The fewer coatings, laminates, and adhesives, the easier the recycling of the publication.
  • Trim sizes. Trim sizes closer to standard paper sizes mean less trim waste.
  • Basis weights. Lower basis weights mean fewer fibers used in making the paper. Higher-bulk papers can maintain thickness.
  • Print quantities. Smaller printings will avoid the production of extra copies that remain unsold and must be disposed of.

Your specs communicate your immediate goals to your printer and ultimately paper manufacturers, but you should also periodically meet with vendors to lay out future goals. As suppliers recognize the demand for higher recycled content, FSC-labeled paper, and cleaner paper manufacturing and publication printing, the industry will respond.

Dale Adams is president of Wordfirm Inc. Association Media & Publishing thanks him for volunteering to provide this comprehensive green printing article to our members.


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