Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amazon and Universal News Showcase Recycled Mags

Amazon and Universal News will run ongoing online promotions highlighting magazines that use recycled paper, under a major push by Green America’s Better Paper Project and Next Steps Marketing.

The “Better Paper for People and Planet” promotion will feature a diverse range of magazines that print on post-consumer recycled paper. Both Amazon and Universal News have extended premium placement and unique pages on their sites to highlight and promote these magazines, in conjunction with Earth Day.

Twenty eight magazines that use recycled paper – including, Shape, Mother Jones, ReadyMade, Body + Soul, Nickelodeon, Make, Natural Home and Everyday with Rachel Ray – now are also featured on a special “Recycled Paper Magazines” section on Amazon. In addition, Amazon asks their consumers to make their “commitment to the Earth a year-round affair, and support magazines printed on recycled paper”. Check out Amazon's new page dedicated to recycled paper magazines.

Twenty-six titles are featured on, a site owned by Universal News in New York City, dedicated to selling online single copy sales. Moving forward Universal News will host an ongoing green page to help build awareness and sale of these magazines.

“This step by the biggest online retailer is a crucial component of rewarding those magazines that are taking very real steps to reduce climate change and deforestation by using recycled paper,” says Frank Locantore, Director of the Better Paper Project of Green America.

In addition, to these online retailers Barnes and Noble, Hastings Books and Music and Universal News continue to demonstrate their leadership with in-store promotions that highlight members of the Better Paper Project. These retailers are running special in-store promotions in April, in conjunction with Earth Day to celebrate these magazines.

For a more comprehensive list of magazines using recycled paper and sustainable production processes, visit Green America’s Better Paper Project website.

The Better Paper Project and Next Steps Marketing are working to expand this promotion to other online and retailer properties in order to recognize and promote the achievements of magazines committed to environmental leadership.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is AbitibiBowater's Path to Survival Via "Going Green"

How does this significant economic news fit into the story of the social and environmental transformation of the paper industry?

At least one visionary organization has offered commentary and evidence on the occasion of their bankruptcy filing as to why "AbitibiBowater needs to green its operations to survive."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Industry Takes Leadership on Climate and Paper

Today, the Washington Post is reporting that the Book Industry Environmental Council announced a goal of reducing the U.S. book industry’s greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 (from a 2006 baseline) with the intent of achieving an 80% reduction by 2050. This industry-wide commitment is a global first in publishing. In 2008, an industry-focused report concluded that the U.S. book industry has a climate impact equivalent to 12.4 million metric tons of carbon. Using the same methodology as this report, this 20% reduction will represent a savings of nearly 2.5 million metric tons per year, the equivalent annual emissions of approximately 450,000 cars.

“I’m very pleased that our industry has set aggressive but achievable goals that will have tangible benefits and will surely set a precedent for other industries,” said Pete Datos, chair of the Council’s climate subcommittee and a Vice President at Hachette Book Group.

The Council (see that set this target is comprised of more than 40 industry stakeholders representing more than 60% of market-share from the largest to the smallest publishers, printers, mills, and others. The Council has been chaired by Random House and was initially formed and is now coordinated by the Green Press Initiative – a non-profit organization working to reduce the environmental impacts of publishing since 2001. The Council is also co-coordinated by the Book Industry Study Group; an industry trade association with a 30 year history of advancing innovation and efficiency in the book industry.

“It is wonderful to see the industry’s expanding commitment to taking action on these issues. There’s a lot more work to be done, but this is a momentous step and will help to unify many of the other efforts underway in the industry,” said Todd Pollak, Program Manager at the Green Press Initiative.

Paper is arguably the industry’s largest impact – nearly 65% of the sector’s carbon footprint according to the analysis completed in 2008. There are a broad range of steps companies in the book industry can take to achieve or surpass this goal including increasing the use of recycled paper, using paper efficiently, reducing returns and preventing books from ending up in landfills.

“Achieving this goal will require major strides as it relates to changing practices. The industry will need to capitalize on efficiencies as it relates to paper usage, but also to transportation, energy consumption, chemicals, and a lot more,” said Julie Loyer, a member of the climate committee and representative from Cascades – a manufacturer of high recycled content book papers with a low carbon footprint.

In addition to the significant commitment represented by the greenhouse gas reduction target, the Council is also working on additional priorities including the development of a green publisher certification program modeled after the LEED system – a certification initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council. This program will measure and certify leading publisher’s environmental performance and will require certified publishers to successfully eliminate virtually all fiber coming from Endangered Forests or areas of social conflict.

The U.S. book industry has steadily intensified its commitment to improving environmental performance in recent years and the unanimous approval of this climate goal is yet another positive step forward.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's In Your Paper Tax Credit Scandal?

by Joshua Martin of Environmental Paper Network

Upset by the big taxpayer money giveaways of the financial and auto bailouts? Outraged by the AIG bonus scandal? Well wait until you hear about the billions of dollars in free money you are now handing out to paper companies if you are a US taxpayer, thanks to some tricky use of an obscure tax credit loophole.

Paper companies could each get hundreds of millions of dollars in cash payments from the Treasury this year by taking advantage of an alternative fuels tax credit that there consultants found on page 804 of the massive 2005 highway bill and devised a way to exploit. International Paper in March 2009 received a first payment of $71.6 million for one month of burning the fuel. The alternative fuels clause was intended primarily to increase the use of ethanol and other biofuels in cars and trucks.

Paper companies, in a scheme devised by consultants, are now being handed taxpayer cash for the long-standing practice of using a byproduct of the wood pulping process known as "black liquor" as a fuel to run their mills. They have not needed to alter or improve their existing business practices to qualify for the tax breaks. Burning the fuel known as "black liquor" dates to the 1930s, and paper companies have consumed nearly all of the byproduct since the 1990s. In order to carry out the scheme, paper companies have been now simply adding a small amount of diesel fuel to each gallon of black liquor in order to be a qualifying mixed fuel type and then applying with the IRS to be registered as an "alternative fuel mixer" and to claim the credit.

A recent Goldman Sachs report on the loophole and its exploitation, cited in a great article in The Nation, states that paper companies use of this tax credit is "the opposite of the what the lawmakers intended when creating it." That's because it actually results in an increase in the use of fossil fuel, thanks of the scheme's method of adding diesel fuel to the black liquor. Analyst reports from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs anticipated Congressional outrage when the loophole and the massive payments are discovered, yet, to date clear Congressional action has not occurred. Various reports cited in the Washington Post and The Nation estimate that the loophole could result in $8-10 billion in payments to the 10 largest paper companies. An average size U.S. pulp mill can burn more than 175 million gallons of black liquor a year in its recovery boilers, which implies an annual tax credit of $90 million, according to a J.P. Morgan report cited by the Washington Post. (Also, according to the Washington Post, this past fall the Joint Committee on Taxation computed the cost of extending the tax credit for three months and projected it would cost a manageable $61 million. This was before the paper companies figured out how to exploit it.)

In addition to the insult and injury to taxpayers, the massive payments are also eliminating the functioning of the free market in the paper industry and creating a disproportionate advantage for certain types of producers. This is not only dangerous for the marketplace, but the losers include more environmentally responsible producers using more efficient grades of paper or recycled paper content. Such mills, which will be critical to developing a green jobs economy, are being put at severe disadvantage. In fact, these billions of dollars of payments are encouraging the overproduction of paper, suppressed prices, and additional emissions of greenhouse gases at some of the most polluting and least efficient mills in America, just to burn the fuel and claim the credit and collect the money.

Please call and voice your outrage to your Members of Congress via the Congressional Switchboard: (202)224-3121 and ask for your Senator and/or Representative.

Editors Note: This is the eighth installment in an 8 week "What's In Your Paper?" series on the Paper Planet focusing on specific sectors of the paper industry or paper from specific Endangered Forest regions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Its Not Junk Mail its "Fun Surprise Mail"

S N L parody of junk mail industry.

Sign the petition for a Do Not Mail registry.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wyoming Go Paperless Day

Hats off to those organizing 'Go Paperless Day' on Arbor Day in Wyoming, a day we should bring back to its former glory. Of course, the first order of business in saving trees is to protect the values that exist now. The second order of business is to re-store some of what we used to have.

They also provide some tips on saving paper at the same link.

Is Jackson Hole an eco-friendly place? I've never been.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Uncoated Freesheet Down 8%, 2007 - 2008

Paper News Blog is reporting that uncoated freesheet consumption (well, shipments) is down 8% from 2007 to 2008. That is before the current downturn was in full effect. Could this be due to the slow realization of the paperless office? We'll need more data to know.

In the meantime, we can estimate some environmental savings. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, it's quite large. Assuming 5% recycled content across all of this paper, Climate for Ideas estimates the savings are around 6 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide equivalent. That includes the vast amount of carbon left in trees, happily growing and stored in the forest, that would otherwise have been used mostly not in the paper itself, but as fuel to make the paper. (Around 3.3 million tons of trees are used to make 1 million tons of paper, with 5% recycled content.) That's a lot of burned trees. Hopefully, this will also slow the conversion of natural forests that the North American paper industry has been undertaking. That includes the conversion of old-growth forests in Canada to secondary forests, and the conversion of secondary, but natural, forests in the US southeastern states to plantations. Both of these conversions mean almost permanent, at least long-term, losses of carbon from these ecosystems.

And, strangely, when freesheet paper consumption is down, the taxpayer saves a bundle: these companies are claiming 50 cents per gallon of tree-based fuel they burn.

This estimate does not include all the savings printing and managing all of that paper incurs as well.

Environmental Defense Fund also estimates the following savings in other pollutants:

  • 18.6 billion gallons of waste water
  • 2.2 billion pounds of solid waste
  • 12 million pounds of particulates
  • 5 million pounds of volatile organic compounds
And many others.

Friday, April 03, 2009

What's In Your Paper Packaging?

by Dogwood Alliance for the Paper Planet

People don’t generally make a point of counting the number of items they throw away per day, much less conduct an inventory of what goes into the trash. If you did happen to keep a journal about your waste-disposal habits, it’s a safe bet to assume that the majority of it is paper or plastic, and that most that was at one point a wrapper or container for something else entirely.

We as a society aren’t really trained to consider the environmental repercussions of what we choose to purchase and consume, but if we were, reality might be a little different. As it is, over 50 percent of the trees chopped down to make paper in the United States each year become not a usable item we buy, but the packaging for it.

The Dogwood Alliance, one among a coalition of environmental conservation groups, has already begun to tackle one of the worst culprits of wasteful packaging: the fast food industry. You may have already wondered about the excessive volume of packaging that certain fast food establishments tend to use, but what about the materials in that packaging’s origins?

Major fast food companies—Wendy’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, to name a few—employ paper packaging which comes straight from natural forests, rather than post-consumer recycled products or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified material. The price for convenience results in rapidly disappearing endangered forests, the introduction of toxic chemicals and pesticides into the ecosystem, and increasing rates of greenhouse gas emissions, to name a few.

The Dogwood Alliance’s aim in combating this problem is to actively work with the fast food companies to change environmentally irresponsible practices and provide readily available alternatives for packaging, including an overall reduction in packaging. Through this, Dogwood’s hope is that these restaurants will cease to purchase paper products from the environmentally unfriendly suppliers and convert to products which don’t waste a tree simply to wind up in already too prolific landfills. Switching from virgin fibers to recycled boxboard, as well as maximizing the use of paper products, is both a cheaper and healthier option—even if the container holds a double bacon cheeseburger.

So the next time you’re at the drive-thru window, stop and consider not only what is in your wallet, or what’s in your belly, but also what’s in your paper packaging! Visit “No Free Refills (for our forests)” to learn more.

Editors Note: This is the seventh installment in an 8 week "What's In Your Paper?" series on the Paper Planet focusing on specific sectors of the paper industry or paper from specific Endangered Forest regions. Subscribe or check back each Wednesday for a new posting in this series.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What's In Your Newspaper?

by Shannon Binns, Green Press Initiative, and Shiloh Bouvette, Markets Initiative for the Paper Planet

What’s in your newspaper? It might not be what you think.

It’s easy to assume that a newspaper is a closed-loop product given that it makes it's way from your doorstep to your kitchen table and then, most likely, into your recycling bin. However, your newspaper might contain less recycled content that you think: on average, North American newsprint contains only 30-35 % recycled content and currently there are no industry-wide targets or standards for increasing recycled content in the US or Canada. In some regions of the world, such as the UK, industry targets have resulted in an average of over 80% recycled content in newspapers.

Despite declining circulation of large daily papers, the newspaper industry still has a huge impact on our climate and our forests. Due to its sheer volume, newsprint comes with a heavier climate and ecological footprint than any other paper grade. In 2008, North American demand for newsprint alone was about 8,000,000 tonnes. Of newsprint produced in Canada, the vast majority of the fiber originates from old growth Boreal forests primarily in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Newsprint originating from the US is mostly sourced from the biologically diverse Southeast, which has the richest temperate forests and freshwater ecosystems in the world.

Some tout that newspaper is made from wood-chips, a so-called by-product of the timber harvest, so it’s not driving this fragmentation of our forests. This is simply not true: more than half of the trees chipped in the Boreal are specifically for paper products. Newsprint also accounts for 30% of the total pulp and paper production capacity in this region. Newsprint is also one of the highest volume paper products originating from the US Southeast, where five million acres are logged by the paper industry each year and 15% of the world’s most biologically diverse temperate forests have been converted to biologically sterile, single species tree farms. These plantations are often managed with chemical fertilizers and pesticides and as a result support 90-95% fewer species of plants and animals than the original forest they replaced.

Replacing virgin tree fiber with recycled content is by far the best way for publishers to reduce their carbon and biodiversity footprint. If the publishing sector is to address it’s contribution to climate change and global deforestation, they must be prepared to advocate for an expanded paper recycling market through additional collection and recycling capacity.

Non-tree fibers such as agricultural waste are also an innovative opportunity for relieving pressure on forests. Pulping agricultural waste fibers comes with about half the ecological footprint of using virgin tree fiber. And processing them into paper is less energy intensive and requires less water. The good news is that organizations such as Markets Initiative are currently coordinating pilot trials of papers containing agricultural residue.

While many large daily newspapers are transitioning to an online format, weekly and smaller, community-based daily papers will continue to thrive for the foreseeable future. We have the responsibility and opportunity to ensure that what’s in these papers has a minimal impact on our forests, our climate, and our communities.

Editors Note: This is the sixth installment in an 8 week "What's In Your Paper?" series on the Paper Planet focusing on specific sectors of the paper industry or paper from specific Endangered Forest regions. Subscribe or check back each Wednesday for a new posting in this series.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

San Francisco First US City to Pass Do Not Mail Resolution

They are dancing around the office at ForestEthics in San Francisco and at over 100 other NGOs and businesses who had been urging the Board of Supervisors to pass a Do Not Mail Resolution.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on California to create a Do Not Mail Registry giving its citizens the choice to stop receiving unwanted junk mail. The non-binding resolution represents the first time American lawmakers have withstood pressure from the direct mail industry and the U.S. Postal Service
to side with the majority of Americans.

"Until now, junk mailers have stifled all efforts to give Americans what they want: an enforceable, comprehensive solution to junk mail's waste and annoyance" said ForestEthics Executive Director Todd Paglia. "San Francisco is the first city in the United States to take political action against junk mail, marking the beginning of a long-awaited government intervention to protect citizens from relentless and predatory junk mailers."