Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rolling Stone Magazine Paper "Climate Neutral?"

Wenner Media yesterday announced that it is printing Rolling Stone magazine on manufactured carbon neutral paper, a process they claim adds no carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Beginning with the June 28, 2007 issue which has lengthy coverage of climate issues, Rolling Stone will print on Catalyst Cooled paper, a "planet friendly" option from Catalyst Paper. The claim is achieved through a combination of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the mill and offsets purchased through tree planting projects in Canada.

While the moves' intentions drew praise, and a degree of polite applause, the failure to included recycled paper elicited concerns of a missed opportunity from several expert conservation organizations. As the NY Times reports, Frank Locantore of Co-op America's Magazine PAPER Project would have advised them of a different choice. “Are the steps that Rolling Stone is taking good and important ones?” Mr. Locantore asked. “Yes. But what I’m afraid they are doing in the process is diverting attention away from the need to use recycled paper.” He added, “All the evidence shows that the greatest ecological and social benefits come from using recycled paper.”

Likewise, in the Vancouver Sun, Nicole Rycroft of Markets Iniatitive, a leading Canadian conservation group working on paper industry issues had comments as well. "They have reduced the greenhouse gas emissions of this specific mill that produces this paper," she said. "But that doesn't take into consideration the impacts of the forest being cut down to make the paper in the first place."

When asked, Rolling Stone cited concerns about recycled paper's quality. However, other magazines that have switched, such as Fast Company and Inc. which was reported in the Paper Planet this week, demonstrate that is a myth and not a legitimate concern. Mansueto Ventures, which publishes Inc. and Fast Company, announced last week that it had switched both its publications to 100 percent recycled paper and had noticed no slip in quality.

Hopefully, Rolling Stones recent steps in a positive direction will lead to continued improvement of its paper choices. They, and other companies, will find more support if they look to the conservation community's "Common Vision for the Transformation of the Pulp and Paper Industry," which provides consensus guidance on what choices are most important.

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