Thursday, June 12, 2008

Helping magazines go green

A new eco-kit to help Canadian magazine producers go green should attract interest all over the world, particularly as it contains detailed examples of how publishers can use paper more efficiently. This can both save publishers money and help to reduce their environmental impact. The kit spells out the benefits in terms of trees, water, energy, greenhouse gas emissions and waste, in a similar manner to the way people who pledge to use less paper at the Shrink website get to see the benefits of their paper saving pledges (yes, there's a common theme to all of this week's posts here - have you made your pledge yet?).

The eco-kit's hints include reducing the base weight of papers used for covers and/or text, and reducing trim size. The kit shows that trimming just 3/8 inch (about 1cm) off the width of a monthly 160-page magazine with a print run of 250,000 could save more than 38 tonnes of paper. This would save 587 trees, enough energy to heat 13 homes for a year, enough waste to fill 3 garbage trucks, a swimming-pool's volume of water and the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking 22 cars off the road for ayear (these figures, like those on the Shrink website come from Environmental Defense's Paper Calculator).

The eco-kit is full of practical advice about issues including the costs of printing on forest-friendly paper, ensuring supply and good quality, working with printers and understanding the chain of custody and forest certification. It also offers guidance on developing a company-wide paper policy and it highlights the important role of advertisers in influencing and encouraging magazine publishers to choose greener paper options.

Another great source of efficiency gains for magazine publishers is distribution. Given that 60-70% of the magazines on newsstands in the USA don't actually get read by anyone, according to a white paper produced by the Independent Press Association, there is plenty of room for improvement here. There are signs that better logistics can help: in the UK, IPC Media claims to have saved 15 million magazines through better-targeted distribution by Marketforce. More savings like this will help to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary paper consumption by the magazine industry.

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