Sweeping changes in sustainable paper production

Here at Posterboy Printing we’re pretty passionate about sustainable business practices and protecting the environment. As a printing company, it comes as no surprise that one of the biggest products used in our industry is paper – and let’s face it, paper has had a pretty chequered history when it comes to sustainable production practices. One of the world’s largest papermakers – and a major supplier to Australian commercial printers – is Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). Back in 2011, Greenpeace launched an aggressive campaign against APP, labelling the company as the world’s worst destroyer of forests, responsible for pushing orangutans and tigers to the brink of extinction as their natural habitat was demolished in the name of progress.

But a lot has changed since then, and in the last five years APP has undergone a breathtaking transformation implementing a Forest Conservation Policy that has put it on the front foot in terms of responsible production. The change has come through its commitment to four key principles:

  1. Halting all natural forest clearances
  2. Best practice in peatland management
  3. Partnerships with local communities
  4. Responsible global supply chain management.

Integral to the Forest Conservation Policy is a commitment to a zero-deforestation target and the company is now in its fifth year of relying exclusively on fibre sourced from responsibly managed platforms throughout the supply chain. APP describe it as a journey with no end – ‘because no-one is perfect, but we will constantly seek to improve and protect the landscapes on which we depend, while improving the livelihoods of the communities who depend on us’. APP have completed the Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plan, a key component in the achievement of the Forest Conservation Policy. The plan consolidates data and recommendations gathered through a range of assessments and input from stakeholders. The company plans to complete Integrated Sustainable Forest Management Plans with all 38 pulpwood suppliers this year. The business has also embarked on LiDAR (light detection and ranging) mapping across an expansive coverage area and are looking to use LiDAR as a monitoring tool. Land conflicts continue to pose a major challenge and APP are focused on managing and resolving these and they have engaged The Forest Trust to conduct due diligence on social conflicts resolutions processes. As at December 2016, the company reported that more than 40% of mapped conflicts had been resolved, with agreements reached and being implemented. Supplier evaluation and risk assessments have been completed for all existing and potential suppliers to ensure continued compliance with the Forest Conservation Plan. There’s little doubt that APP have come a long way since the days that Greenpeace launched their campaign against the company. And it seems that ethical, sustainable sourcing has become integral to the way the business operates – proving that progress doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. Want to know more about ethical sourcing in the print industry? You’ll be pleased to know that the Pulp, Paper and Print sector is already one of the lowest industrial greenhouse gas emitters worldwide. Contact Posterboy Printing today and we’ll tell you how you can make sure that your print runs tread lightly on our fragile planet.

Carbon cost of digital reading

A story caught our eye recently about how global hotel chain Marriott International has made the decision to no longer deliver newspapers to the doors of its’ guests, unless the guest specifically requests it. The reason for the change?  Too many unclaimed newspapers left in the hallways, which in turn is not great for the environment.  In fact, the official announcement stated that Marriott projected newspaper distribution would reduce by around 50,000 papers daily or 13 million papers annually – thereby avoiding 10,350 tons of carbon emissions.

It’s no surprise that increasing numbers of people are choosing to consume their news electronically these days but the reduction in carbon emissions statement piqued our interest so we thought we’d investigate a little to find out if the switch to electronic media really is saving the planet. Research out of Stockholm in Sweden suggests that going paperless may not be as eco-friendly as first thought.  The report – ‘Screening environmental life cycle assessment of printed, web-based and tablet e-paper newspaper’ is a decade old but the research is interesting and the conclusions are just as valid today as they were back in 2007.  If you’d like to read the 100-page report you can find it here.

Hands holding newspaper

The study looked at different patterns regarding where in the life cycle the main potential environmental impact can be seen. For the printed newspaper the main activity was the paper production, for a web based newspaper (read from a computer) the energy for reading was crucial and for a tablet e-paper newspaper the production of the electronic device contributed the most to the potential environmental impact. Additionally, the energy used for editorial work is an activity that contributes to the total impact.  Environmental impacts from the distribution of the printed newspaper were significant, but not dominant for the results. The study identified a number of key aspects that may affect the environmental impact of the newspaper medium and these include:

  • The number of people reading each copy of the printed or electronic paper
  • The reading time for a web-based newspaper (read via a computer)
  • The lifetime of electronic devices
  • Mulit-use of electronic devices
Folded newspapers

The results of the study show that reading time has a direct impact on the Co2 emissions generated when a paper is read online from a computer.  Although reading time is not a factor when reading from physical newspaper or viewing it via a tablet, it makes a huge difference if you’re getting your dose of the daily news from your laptop or desktop computer.

Obviously the longer you read the more energy you’re going to be consuming and the more carbon emissions you’re going to be responsible for.  The tipping point is around 30 minutes – in other words, if you and other members of your household choose to take your news electronically and your combined reading time is more than 30 minutes, you’d have less impact on the environment if you switched back to paper. Definitely some food for thought there!  In a world where we’re all being encouraged to go paperless it seems that the opposite might actually be a more eco-friendly option – always provided of course that the paper has been sourced in an ethical and sustainable way. Want to know more about lowering your print Co2 emissions?  Contact Posterboy Printing today and we’ll tell you how to green up your print runs.

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