Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spitballs And Recycled Paper

The Paper Planet welcomes a guest column by Frank Locantore of the Green America Better Paper Project, part of a series highlighting the work of members of the Environmental Paper Network.

Spitballs And Recycled Paper
: Why every seventh grader knows recycled paper is better for the environment
If you weren’t the seventh grader who chewed up paper and got it all pulpy with your saliva before doing something nefarious with it, then you most certainly remember those kids. These same kids would never think of making a spitball by chewing on a tree log – it takes way too much energy and could require mixing some hazardous chemicals with their saliva. Like middle school spitballs, making recycled paper uses less energy and water (saliva) and requires fewer tree parts and is better for the environment than making paper exclusively from trees.

Credible science backs up the spit-balling, environmentally intuitive seventh grader. The seminal Paper Task Force Report (PTFR) was written by the Environmental Defense Fund, Time Inc., Duke University, Johnson & Johnson, Prudential Life, and McDonald’s. Hardly the product of radical organizations, a glimpse of what the PTFR found is that: read on...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are you STILL getting mixed messages about recycled paper?

In a recent blog post, Jeff Mendelsohn of New Leaf Paper provides a deeper look at the often confusing carbon footprinting of recycled versus virgin paper and explains what's necessary for collaboration toward true sustainability.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the greenest paper company of all?
Virgin paper manufacturers confuse paper buyers with misleading comparisons of the environmental impacts of virgin paper vs. recycled paper.
Over the last six months, some of the largest virgin fine paper manufacturers in North America have launched major marketing initiatives holding themselves up as environmental leaders. They support these claims by postulating that virgin paper manufacturing generates the same or less greenhouse gas emissions than recycled fine paper. They continue with broad statements suggesting high recycled content is not appropriate for fine printing and writing papers.
How do they arrive at this conclusion? By looking in the mirror. Two large virgin coated paper companies ... read on

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dogwood Alliance: EPA’s Decision Not to Regulate Biomass Carbon Emissions is a Big Mistake

Today, Dogwood Alliance, an organization focused on protecting Southern forests, called on utility companies, investors, and federal, state, and local governments to halt the further expansion of large-scale bioenergy projects, including burning whole trees in existing coal-fired power plants while the EPA studies the environmental impacts.  This comes in response to the agency’s recently announced decision to allow biomass-burning facilities to avoid regulation of carbon emissions for the next three years.  Citing the absence of CO2 and forest management regulation as well as insufficient smokestack pollution controls, the organization is concerned that the government has just opened the floodgates on yet another environmentally destructive, unregulated, and unaccountable industry all in the name of clean, renewable energy.
“While there is a real and urgent need to reduce our dependence on coal and foreign oil, burning forests is not the answer,” said Danna Smith, Executive Director of Dogwood Alliance. “Allowing this industry to run rampant while mounting science is documenting that industrial-scale burning of bioenergy for electricity will accelerate carbon emissions, threaten human health, and destroy forests, is a major mistake.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The 2011 State of the Paper Industry Report: Steps Toward an Environmental Vision


The Environmental Paper Network released a comprehensive sustainability report today tracking progress on key pulp and paper industry indicators over the previous decade. The report, titled The State of the Paper Industry 2011: Steps Toward an Environmental Vision, provides data and analysis about fiber sourcing, recycling, consumption, paper production, and the paper industry's impact on communities and the climate crisis.

The report is a follow-up to the EPN’s landmark report published in 2007, The State of the Paper Industry: Monitoring the Indicators of Sustainability, which established the key indicators to monitor the industry. Both reports measure the progress and challenges of the industry and conservationists toward achieving the EPN’s Common Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry.

“Our new report indicates that marketplace responsibility and leadership over the last decade has been the driver of on-the-ground conservation achievements in endangered forests,” said Joshua Martin, Director of Environmental Paper Network.

What are your thoughts on the state of sustainability in the paper industry in North America?  

Friday, July 08, 2011

Obama's EPA Kicks Biomass Can Down the Road

As a conservationist and public health advocate, one of the things I despised most about the George W. Bush Administration's strategy while in office was the release of key, anti-environmental regulations on Friday afternoons, just before a long holiday weekend.  And certainly, with the new Administration, that would "change," right? Right?

Turns out the answer is "No."

On Friday, July 1st, as reported in the New York Times online on July 5th, the U.S. EPA published a final plan (pdf) that will give biomass a three-year, get-out-of-jail-free-card, while the agency studies the effect of plant emissions on climate change. Over those three years, industrial plants that burn woody biomass will not need permits before starting construction and will not need Title V operating permits.  The forest products industry, including pulp and paper, is the largest user of biomass energy in the United States, almost entirely derived from wood from forests.

The final plan (pdf) released Friday by U.S. EPA will give biomass a three-year pass while the agency studies the effect of plant emissions on climate change. During that time, industrial plants that burn woody biomass and landfills that release the greenhouse gases from decomposing biomass won't need permits before starting construction and won't need Title V operating permits.

When the EPA was contacted today to register concern and propose solutions to the fact that organizations and individual citizens that provided unique comments on the proposed rule were not notified of the publication of the final rule, the response was that we all should have "checked the (EPA) website" more often.

Fortunately for our forests, the news was not completely buried. The NYTimes/Greenwire article informed the public that, "biomass-burning facilities will be spared from new federal curbs on gases that help cause climate change."

The federal register notice announcing the final rule can be read here.   It comes on the heels of a provocative new report released by the Biomass Accountability Project called, "Biomass Electricity:  Clean Energy Subsidies for a Dirty Industry."  The EPA has just helped ensure that these subsidies continue for the next three years without restraint, and that the projects which these subsidies develop will be polluters grandfathered into the future rules regulating these emissions from biomass energy.

The EPA's responses to public comments can be found here. (PDF)  What do readers think?  Are you satisfied with the EPA's responses?  

To be sure, there's been several rules announced this week that will be effective in reducing pollution from coal, and the EPA is to be commended for that.  They are based in science and will greatly improve public health, most certainly in the city where I live.  But the fight over diminishing our forests for fuel and dispelling the damaging carbon-neutral myth is not nearly done.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sprint Tops Green Grades from ForestEthics, Others Lag

Today ForestEthics released its 2011 Green Grades Report Card, ranking a dozen U.S. Fortune 500 companies that impact forests through heavy paper use. Now in its 5th year, Green Grades has established itself as a key information source for consumers and companies seeking to match environmental values with paper purchasing and business decisions.

Download the report card here >>

This year Green Grades focuses on companies in the credit card, insurance and telecom sectors – a group characterized by heavy paper consumption, including direct mail marketing. The following companies are graded: American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, Capitol One, Chase, Discover, GEICO, Sprint, State Farm, Travelers, USAA, and Verizon.

Green Grades evaluates companies on key paper sustainability measures, including: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification; maximization of post-consumer recycled content; reduction in paper consumption; and avoidance of Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) greenwash.

Among all companies surveyed, Sprint emerged as the clear leader. The company will amend its paper policy to avoid fiber from endangered forests and set a purchasing goal of 90% FSC paper by 2012. These commitments enhance an already strong policy, which includes the impressive goal of reducing the total weight of paper the company purchases by 30% within the next year, and 40% by 2017.

AT&T also made important new commitments, including giving preference to FSC certified products for paper purchases.  Discover made the most progress among credit card companies, adopting its first-ever paper procurement policy, and declaring a preference for FSC. Insurer USAA acted to improve its direct mail paper use by setting a minimum goal of 10% post-consumer recycled fiber, with a target of migrating toward 30%. 

Insurance giants GEICO and Travelers are Green Grades’ biggest laggards.  They declined to return the Green Grades survey, and have no publicly available information about their paper policies and practices.

“As some of the world’s largest paper consumers, these companies are part of forest destruction in many regions.  The good news is that ForestEthics has persuaded several of them to use their influence and buying power to help protect forests,” said Mark Schofield of ForestEthics. “We’re most disappointed by GEICO and Travelers, two noted junk mailers who, despite having significant impacts on forests because of paper use, have made no commitments to environmental responsibility in this realm.”

Download the report card here >>

ForestEthics is a member of the Environmental Paper Network.

Introducing the Ancient Forest Friendly Awards

Environmental Paper Network member, Canopy, has announced a prestigious new environmental award for company's which are demonstrating leadership in progressive paper procurement.  In a time when stamps of approval are awarded for meager efforts and unsubstantiated environmental gain, an Ancient Forest Friendly™ award from Canopy is a true mark of integrity and sets the gold standard for meaningful action when it comes to paper purchasing and forest conservation.

Awards will celebrate a company’s progress climbing the Environmental Paper Network’s approved Paper Steps, including the use of papers found in Canopy’s ecopaper database.  Conservation Supporters will also be recognized for their action in supporting protection of the world’s remaining ancient forests.

Learn more.....