Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2014

When you work closely with the people and companies involved in the Graphic Communications Value Chain – the papermakers, printers, publishers, foresters, and countless others who make paper products and printed communication possible – it’s easy to see how versatile, practical, and environmentally beneficial responsible production and use of print and paper can be.

For the public at large, however, that positive message is harder to see. Working against negative information and environmental misconceptions about print and paper is difficult; I’m sure we have all had moments when we feel like nobody out there understands the true sustainable features of our products.

That is why it’s great to find others who are also working to dispel the myths and convey the “good news” about paper and print products and their sustainability. A case in point is a series of articles sponsored by Two Sides member company International Paper. The articles are available online at Triple Pundit, a new-media company with one of the world’s most well-read websites on ethical, sustainable and profitable business.

These six highly informative articles were fact-checked by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. They do a great job of conveying the positive attributes of print, paper, and forest products, with a special focus on certification and sustainability. We’ve provided a quick summary of each below, with a link to the full article on the Triple Pundit website. I hope you find them a useful resource.  Feel free to share ideas and resources in the Comments section below.

Paper and the Untold Sustainable Forestry Story

By Teri Shanahan, Vice President, Sustainability, International Paper

This is a great introduction to what the author calls “a counterintuitive story: harvest trees to save forests.” She lays out one of the most important fundamentals of the sustainable forests equation: privately owned forestland not used for forest products is at serious risk of being given over to other uses.  “In the U.S., a whopping 70 percent of forestland are ‘working forests’ that rely on an economic driver for their existence,” Shanahan notes. “By using paper, recycling that paper, and choosing paper once again, you can play a part in preserving our planet’s forests.”

Deforestation and the Role of Paper Products

By Phil Covington

This article provides a balanced look at the causes and consequences of deforestation. Globally, around 40 percent of the annual industrial wood harvest is processed for paper and paperboard. While it is true that “demand for paper and other forest products provides an incentive to keep growing, harvesting and regenerating planted forests,” says Covington, paper producers are working to sustainably manage the world’s forests, and the industry need not be a cause of deforestation. “Through proper management with independently certified forestry standards, the supply of paper – fundamental to humankind’s development – can remain so responsibly into the future.”

The State of the Earth’s Forests

By Eric Justian

Providing a more in-depth look at the world’s forested areas, this article discusses variables affecting our forests, and explains the economic factors that have driven change in the past and must be considered for a sustainable future. “The important thing is for nations to focus on actually using forests as permanent and invaluable resources,” Justian writes. “As nations do that, they protect and promote those resources. This is where businesses and governments can and do work together toward a globally healthy, sustainable goal. In that goal, the world is moving in the right direction.”

Certification: Building Standards for Sustainable Forests

By Jan Lee

“Pretty much anyone who works in sustainable forestry these days will tell you that certification is the cornerstone of a responsible eco-conscious forestry program,” writes Lee. This article outlines the primary and secondary benefits of certification, and discusses the different certification programs available, as well as the distinct benchmarks offered by each.

Join the Forest Certification Movement to Meet Your Sustainability Goals

By Kathy Abusow

Today, only about 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified, which represents about a quarter of global round wood production. “It’s vitally important for all of us to increase the percentage of timberland that is certified to a credible standard, while also promoting responsible forestry on uncertified lands,” says the author.  This article outlines steps business leaders can take to support the certification movement and promote sustainable forestry.

Responsible Forestry: Can Certification Save Our Forests?

By Mike Hower

Human society, with its economic and material needs, relies on the resources provided by our planet’s forests; yet, absent of human intervention, natural factors like storms, pests, and diseases also consume those resources. Writes Hower, “Can we find a middle ground to maintain the health of the forests and also use them responsibly for present and future generations?” This article compares two leading certification programs – SFI and FSC – and explains their differences. As Hower concludes, “In a world of depleting forest stocks, any effort toward responsible forestry is a step in the right direction.”

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides U.S., Inc.

Read Full Post »

Case Study:  The Cost of Direct Mail versus Email Invoices

This blog appeared in the series “Two Sides to Sustainability” by Phil Riebel in Printing Impressions on December 5, 2013

Every now and then I come across a study that flies in the face of conventional beliefs.  This one in particular interested me because of our ongoing campaign to remove “anti-paper” green claims used to promote “lower cost” electronic billing.  It seems that the “lower cost” feature is now also being questioned by some.  Let’s take a look.

In 2009, a young Danish company called Natur-Energi A/S took on a challenge to create a better communication tool that would increase the number of invoices paid on time.  Natur-Energi is dedicated to locating, generating and delivering simple and effective energy supplies and solutions that result in lower CO2 generation.  Their customers are, for the most part, private small and medium-sized companies who are committed to CO2 reduction and slowing climate change.

According to an article in the August 2013 issue of Fresh Data (an on-line resource from Data Services Inc.), a case study details how Natur-Energi decided to test whether switching to paper invoices with a new population of customers would improve the speed of payment.  The study’s objective was to establish what effect digital invoicing has on customers and whether switching to invoices sent via physical mail could improve the on-time delivery of payments with those customers.  Secondly, the campaign would investigate whether digital invoices were cheaper than physical mail in regard to overall operational costs.

A test population group of 2,879 new customers was selected and their behavior through a two-month billing and payment cycle was carefully monitored.  Records were kept of the type of invoice sent, date and medium of the first and second reminders, traffic to Customer Service and date of write-off.

What they uncovered is good news for the paper industry.  According to the case study, evidence shows that new customers pay the required amount significantly later if they receive their invoices by email, compared to physical mail.  Natur-Energi discovered that sending invoices via email actually increased their overall costs. 

The survey found that 59 percent of customers receiving the invoice via email had to be sent a reminder, while only 29 percent of customers receiving the invoice via mail required a follow-up message.

After the first reminder, the customer helpline saw activity increase 80 percent from the customers who received email invoices which created a large strain on the company’s customer service telephones as well as personnel. Only 50 percent of the customers who received their invoices via email reached out for help. That is to say, 47 percent of those receiving an initial invoice by email called Customer Service after a reminder meaning only 14.5 percent of customers receiving an initial invoice via direct mail called Customer Service.

The survey clearly states:

  • A call to Customer Service was calculated to cost about $9 per call. On these calls, the customers were asked why they had not paid on first billing. The common responses were that either they had not received the first bill, or “Maybe it’s in the SPAM folder.”  Or, put another way, about 38 percent of the customers billed by email ended up costing the company an additional $9 (80 percent of 59 percent).  However, only 14.5 percent of those billed by mail cost the company that $9 (50 percent of 29 percent).
  • And, of course, there were non-payers in both groups who failed to pay after a second bill and the management of each of these customers was customer specific and calculated to cost on average of  $11.
  • The bottom line is that it cost the company $3.25 per customer to get paid by paper invoice and $5.75 per customer billed by email.

With every new reminder that had to be sent out, costs increased significantly for those customers needing an extra push to make their payment.  What Natur-Energi experienced by using paper invoices was a savings of 42.8 percent of the associated costs.

Another interesting element of this experiment? Direct mail postage is pricey in Denmark at almost twice what is in the United States.  It seems to makes sense to us then that the case becomes even stronger for mailing invoices in the U.S. market where the postage cost is so much lower.

According to Natur-Energi CFO Gert Lund Storgaard, “Liquidity is a vital success factor in a new and fast growing company, and we will continue to send physical invoices to new customers for this reason.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: