Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Paper Planet Has Moved to a New Home

After a good, long run publishing on this platform, the Paper Planet, is moving to a new web address at the new website of the Environmental Paper Network.

You can read and follow the blog now at

This site at  will remain public as an archive of previous articles.  Please join us and register on the new website in order to join the conversation and comment on the articles covering pulp, people, ecology and the transformation of an industry.

You can also stay connected to articles on Facebook and Twitter (@whatsnyourpapr)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Association of Alternative Newsmedia Endorses Environmental Vision at Annual Meeting

Two organizations that are leaders in the Environmental Paper Network have been in New Orleans this week for the annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (formerly the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies).  They have reported back, with some good news:  The Association, representing 129 alternative weekly news organizations, voted unanimously to endorse the Newspaper Industry Environmental Vision at its annual July convention in New Orleans.

“The AAN is showing its leadership in the industry by endorsing the Environmental Vision,” said  Shannon Binns, Green Press Initiative. “It’s not just a step towards a more sustainable industry, but one that’s more viable too.”

The Environmental Vision is comprised of five goals aimed at supporting a healthy climate and protecting endangered and high conservation value forests, increasing recycled content and supporting best practices in forest management, maximizing production efficiency, and supporting best practices in both print and digital media operations.

“Endorsing the Vision sends a strong message to newsprint suppliers that publishers are interested in where their paper comes from, and what the impacts are on our world’s climate, forests and species,” said Tara Sawatsky, Canopy’s corporate campaigner.

“It makes sense to encourage the marketplace to provide environmentally sustainable products – and as such it was an obvious step for AAN to endorse the Newspaper Industry Environmental Vision,” said Tiffany Shackelford, AAN’s Executive Director.

The creation of the Newspaper Industry Environmental Vision was facilitated by Canopy and Green Press Initiative, and with input from leading newspaper printers, associations, newsprint producers, and publishers, including AAN member NOW Magazine.

Copies of the Newspaper Industry Environmental Vision are available for download here:

5 Groups File Lawsuit Challenging EPA's Free Pass on Climate Pollution from Biomass Energy

Good decisions require good information.

Stakeholders in the paper industry's transformation towards greater environmental responsibility need good information about the climate pollution from harvesting, land-use change, and smokestack emissions of using and burning virgin tree fiber to make paper.

That's why paper industry transformation advocates are keenly interested in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory process on this matter, and the most recent news of a final decision to delay regulatory action on climate pollution from biomass energy and study the issue for three years, while in the meantime sanctioning the "carbon-neutral" myth of this type of energy, even directly from natural forests.

This week, 5 organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA's recent final decision and the Partnership for Policy Integrity has a good overview article about the issue and the lawsuit."
"Earlier this year, despite having initially included “biogenic” CO2 in the greenhouse gases to be newly regulated under the Clean Air Act, the EPA reversed its initial decision and announced it needed three years to decide  how biomass carbon emissions should be regulated. In response, The Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Georgia ForestWatch, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Wild Virginia filed a lawsuit August 15 against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, urging the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to overturn EPA’s three-year deferral."
Read more.... 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Environmental Paper Network Applauds Senate Resolution 251 For Improved Recycling

Senate Resolution 251 was introduced on August 2nd by co-chairs of the Recycling Caucus, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R–ME). The intent behind the non-binding resolution was to showcase the high level benefits that recycling provides the US economy, jobs, and the environment. At the same time, the bill calls for needed improvement to the current collection, processing, manufacturing and consuming of recyclables and recycled materials.  The resolution follows on the heels of a compelling Congressional briefing on the link between recycling and job created, and featured in the Paper Planet last week.

“In today’s political environment, this is a positive step forward to building the foundation of support for the US recycling industry,” stated Pam Blackledge of the Environmental Paper Network’s RePaper Project. “Senate Resolution 251 is something that everyone can and should be willing to get behind. We greatly appreciate that the bill showcases the extreme value that recycling offers our communities, our environment, and our economy while still pushing for further improvements. We’re grateful that Senators Carper and Snowe were able and willing to push this bill forward.”

The bill highlights the fact that recycling directly and indirectly employs more than 450 million Americans, while creating more than $90 billion in economic output - .6 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product. In terms of environmental savings, the bill highlights that energy use is dramatically lessened due to using recycled resources, highlighting that recycled newsprint takes 45% less energy than virgin newsprint. The bill has been referred to the Environmental and Public Works committee.

Along with Environmental Paper Network, numerous organizations have endorsed the resolution, including National Recycling Coalition, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Paper Recycling Coalition, Solid Waste Association of North America, Steel Recycling Institute, American Forest and Paper Association, Aluminum Association and Recycling Organizations of North America.
Media Contact: Pam Blackledge, 208-344-4043

Friday, August 05, 2011

Congressional Briefing Shows Connection Between Recycling and Jobs

Senator Carper of Delaware
Co-Chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus

On Thursday, July 28th, the RePaper Project attended a Congressional Briefing in Washington DC about the critical connection between recycling and building a green economy. The briefing was co-hosted by Senator Carper (D-DE) and Senator Snowe (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Recycling Caucus. The intent was to increase education and awareness about the value of the US recycling industry. Ideally, the briefing also served to drive momentum and support for progressive recycling reform in the collection, processing, manufacturing, and consuming of recycled materials. Congressional staffers from both Senate and House offices were in attendance, along with private companies and non-profits.

The panel of speakers included Senator Carper along with representatives from Axion International (NJ), HiTech Assets (OK), the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (DC), Pratt Industries (GA), and the National Recycling Coalition-affiliated state recycling organization, the California Resource Recovery Association.

All of the speakers delivered strong and clear messages around the positive attributes of the recycling industry, including:

  • recycling creates well-paying jobs;
  • recycling reduces environmental burdens to air, water, land and communities;
  • recycling spurs innovation through creative end markets; and
  • the recycling industry adds billions of dollars to the economy.
However, on one key point there was a difference of view related to the export trade of recovered materials. The representative from Pratt Industries, a 100% recycled paper manufacturer, was the only one advocating to keep recovered paper at home for our domestic industries instead of shipping it abroad. His argument: that by having a greater supply of fiber for domestic use, it could reduce the cost of the resource and alleviate much of the pressure on our recycled paper mills. For the other industry representatives, however, this idea was something that they cautioned would be extremely damaging to their businesses, claiming that the export market is a major driver of their business model.

As a recycled paper advocate, Pratt’s message resonated greatly with me. How do we drive the market demand for recovering more fiber without then losing this necessary resource to countries that are willing to pay top dollar for the product, making it feasibly impossible for our domestic manufacturers to afford this raw material? This is a potentially life-threatening conundrum facing the domestic recycled manufacturing industry, with recovered paper being the number one US export, and unfortunately no easy or straightforward answers currently exist.

But that shouldn’t stop us from finding a working solution. We need everyone at the table talking about this challenge, finding pathways forward, and working together to create a model that can sustain a thriving, green, recycled paper industry here at home without adversely impacting trade markets. The RePaper Project of the Environmental Paper Network works to increase paper recovery and recycled paper manufacturing in North America and is facilitating dialogue on this question. If this discussion interests you and you’re willing to come to the virtual table, please chime in with your thoughts in the comments below or contact us.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Communities Tackling Unwanted Phone Books, Junk Mail

The Town of Brookline and the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts have joined a national waste reduction movement allowing residents to opt out of receiving unwanted mail and phone books via their municipal websites. Owing to a collaboration between the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), which initiated the project, and Catalog Choice, which developed and operates the opt-out registry, Brookline and Cambridge residents can stop delivery of unwanted phone books, catalogs, coupons, and credit card solicitations.

Residents can reach the registry directly at: for Cambridge and for Brookline.

This two-community effort is part of a U.S. campaign aimed at slashing wasteful uses of paper, packaging, and other natural resources; reducing product impacts; saving taxpayer dollars; and honoring consumer choice. In October 2010, the City of Seattle passed the nation's first law requiring that telephone directory publishers provide residents with a phone books opt-out option. Last month the City of San Francisco passed an ordinance limiting phone book distribution to residents requesting delivery.

Each year, Americans receive more than 100 billion pieces of unsolicited mail while municipalities foot the bill for waste collection and recycling or disposal. More than 650,000 tons of phone books alone are delivered annually to households across the United States and a large percentage goes unused. While a third of all phone books are recycled, 410,000 tons still find their way to landfills or incinerators, costing local municipalities about $60 million in management costs.

"The unnecessary production, transport, and recycling or disposal of paper emits greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, which contributes to climate change," said Jesse Mermell, Brookline Selectman and Co-Chair of the Town's Climate Action Committee. "Reducing paper waste will not only lower greenhouse gas emissions but will also cut waste and pollution, in line with Brookline's commitment to reduce our community's carbon footprint."

"This new opt-out website is easy to use and a great service for our residents," said Lisa Peterson, Cambridge's Commissioner of Public Works. "With a few simple clicks on the site, each Cambridge resident has the opportunity to lower their impact on the environment."

"By taking tangible steps to reduce paper waste, save taxpayer money, and provide their residents with a meaningful choice, Brookline and Cambridge have become national leaders in the move toward zero waste," said Scott Cassel, PSI's Executive Director. "The Catalog Choice registry provides residents and municipal officials with the transparency needed to ensure that opt-out action is creating the desired environmental results."

"Brookline and Cambridge are taking a great step toward meeting their waste goals while setting a positive precedent for consumer choice and privacy," said Chuck Teller, Executive Director of Catalog Choice. "Our job is to make it easy for citizens to choose the mail and phone books they receive. This initiative is the most effective way for companies and communities to be more efficient, cut waste, and stop unwanted mail and phone books at the source."

To take further action on unwanted phone books, view this 30-second video: For more information on unwanted phone books, please visit:

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.....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Metro Montreal first to guarantee all FSC certified newsprint

Today, Metro Montreal, the most-read newspaper on the island of Montreal, begins printing exclusively on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper as part of a new environmental policy launched in collaboration with North American environmental organization, CanopyThe groundbreaking policy developed with Canopy establishes Metro Montreal as an environmental leader among newspapers, and the first in North America to guarantee all of its newsprint is FSC certified, the only forest certification system recognized by environmental organizations worldwide.

“We are proud to be the first in North America to guarantee that we are printed every day on FSC certified newspaper and we hope that other publishers will follow our lead,” says Daniel Barbeau, publisher of Metro Montreal. “We are also reducing the height of the Metro by almost 4cm to cut our paper consumption. So, today readers will see a redesigned paper that delivers the same news and aesthetic appearance they’re used to, but without having to print too many pages.“

The new environmental policy also commits Metro Montreal to excluding paper from intact and endangered forests, reducing its carbon footprint, and supporting forest conservation initiatives such as the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.

“This is no greenwash; Metro Montreal is a newspaper walking the talk,” says Tara Sawatsky, Corporate Campaigner at Canopy. “By committing to purchase wood fibre more responsibly businesses show they understand the environmental importance and ecological value of our forests and, more importantly, work to protect them."

Canopy is a Steering Committee member of the Environmental Paper Network, which publishes the Paper Planet.

Read the Metro Montreal environmental policy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UPDATE: RISI Removes Article(s) on Paper Scorecards for a 2nd Time

The Paper Planet wishes to apologize that the link that was published yesterday to an updated, corrected, and short version of the two pieces by contributor Phil Riebel, titled, "Five Ways to Check Your Paper," is no longer active.  The new article was removed again overnight from RISI's website, for reasons which are not yet clear.  The long version of the article, "Review of Paper Scorecards and Product Declarations," was removed last week because of factually incorrect statements about the life cycle approach used by the Paper Calculator, and has never been updated or reposted.  

It is unfortunate that these articles were published, distributed, and read with inaccurate information about the life cycle approach of the Paper Calculator.  EPN provides transparency and clear guidance regarding the life cycle model behind the Paper Calculator through documentation available on the Paper Calculator website.  

EPN is dedicated to maintaining the Paper Calculator as the most trusted independent tool available to paper purchasers to measure and report the environmental benefits of better paper choices.  The Paper Calculator was built on the original life-cycle research of the Paper Task Force, which included Environmental Defense Fund, Johnson and Johnson, Time, Inc., McDonald's, Duke University, and others.  It receives ongoing guidance and life cycle data updates from environmental consulting firm, Franklin Associates, a division of ERG. 

Thank you again for using the Paper Calculator to help you or your organization make environmentally responsible paper choices.