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Posts Tagged ‘environmental impacts’

TWOSIDES_1©Matthew HamsIn 2013, 72% of Americans surveyed said that print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate when produced and used responsibly (Toluna and Two Sides, 2013). This was great news and indicated that many people understand the sustainable nature of paper.

Have you ever thought about what defines a sustainable product? A bit of research on this topic shows that the key features include:

  • made from a renewable resource
  • re-usable and recyclable
  • made using renewable energy

…the exact features of forest products, like wood and paper! Here are key points to remind us of the great features of print and paper:

1- Paper supports sustainable forest management. The North American paper industry promotes sustainable forestry and depends on sustainable forest growth to provide a reliable supply of wood fiber. Paper manufacturers do this by encouraging forest sustainability through their purchase and use of certified wood fiber and by promoting sustainable forest management policies and practices. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the industry also encourages landowners to continue managing their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. Read more.

2- Sustainable forest management benefits people and the planet. Collecting used paper and recycling it into new products is good for the environment. However, the wood fibers in paper can be recycled only about five times before they get too weak and break down. That’s why we need fresh fiber harvested from responsibly managed forests, too. Using fresh fiber creates a sustainable cycle of high-quality recyclable material to continually replenish recycled fiber. Without fresh wood fiber, recycled fiber would quickly run out and most paper production would cease within months. Read more.

TWOSIDES_3©Matthew Hams3- Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. Paper is the most recycled product in the world. Since we began tracking how much paper gets recycled back in 1990, the recovery rate for used paper has increased dramatically. We’re not only recovering more, but we now know how to get the most environmental and economic benefits from using recycled paper in new products. Read more.

4- Much of the energy used in pulp and papermaking is renewable. Nearly two-thirds of the energy used by U.S. pulp and paper mills is self-generated using renewable, carbon-neutral biomass in high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) systems.   In fact, the U.S. paper and forest products industry produces and uses more renewable energy than all other industrial sectors combined. Read more.

5- The carbon footprint of paper is not as high as you think. For paper products, the carbon footprint includes all greenhouse gas emissions from harvesting trees through the manufacturing process to use and disposal or recycling. A look across this entire life cycle shows that paper’s carbon footprint can be divided into three basic elements: greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration and avoided emissions.   Each of these elements is influenced by important characteristics that make paper’s carbon footprint smaller than might be expected:   it’s made from a renewable resource that stores carbon, it’s manufactured using mostly renewable energy and it’s recyclable. Read more.

6- Electronic media also has environmental impacts that cannot be ignored. Rather than asking which is better, paper or electronic communication, we should be working to determine which combination of the two has the least impact on the environment while best meeting social and economic needs.   As the population and resulting demand on resources continues to grow, a sustainable future will necessarily depend more heavily on the use of renewable and recyclable products and less on non-renewable materials and the use of fossil fuel energy. Read more.

7- “Go Green – Go Paperless” messages can be misleading and may not meet best practices for environmental marketing. Many leading U.S. companies are urging their customers to go paperless with claims that paperless bills, statements and other electronic communications save trees, are “greener” or otherwise protect the environment. Beyond the fact that “go paperless” marketing messages ignore the highly sustainable nature of print on paper – it comes from a renewable resource, is recyclable and recycled more than any other commodity in the U.S. and has great carbon characteristics – these claims fail to meet the most basic tests for acceptable environmental marketing as outlined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and others. Read more.

8- Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Paper is made from a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable and compostable. These features, combined with the paper industry’s advocacy of responsible forestry practices and certification, use of renewable, carbon-neutral biofuels and advances in efficient papermaking technology, make paper a product with inherent and unique sustainable features. Read more.

There you have it. Each one of the above paragraphs links to our more detailed fact sheets packed with great information and backed-up with verifiable evidence and scientific reports.

Happy Earth Day!

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides North America

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This blog first appeared in PIWorld on February 6, 2014 (Two Sides to Sustainability by Phil Riebel).

Electronic devices make our lives better in many ways. However, when we look deeply at their life cycle, it can sometimes raise more questions than it answers. A recent article in the October 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine details how electronic devices are fueling corruption and civil unrest in the Congo.

According to the article, The Price of Precious, the minerals in our electronic devices have bankrolled unspeakable violence in the Congo because “militia-controlled mines in eastern Congo have been feeding raw materials into the world’s biggest electronics and jewelry companies and at the same time feeding chaos. Turns out your laptop—or camera or gaming system or gold necklace—may have a smidgen of Congo’s pain somewhere in it.” The Congo is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country and one of its richest on paper, with an embarrassment of diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, tin, tantalum, you name it—trillions’ worth of natural resources. But because of never ending war, it is one of the poorest and most traumatized nations in the world.

The article goes on to detail that in the late 1990s, foreign troops and rebel groups seized hundreds of mines. The rebels funded their brutality with diamonds, gold, tin, and tantalum, a hard, gray, corrosion-resistant element used to make electronics. Eastern Congo produces 20 to 50 percent of the world’s tantalum. In the early 2000s, the fighting stopped but the Congo was left in shambles…

Bridges, roads, houses, schools, and entire families had been destroyed. As many as five million Congolese had died. Peace conferences were hosted, but cordial meetings in fancy hotels didn’t alter the ugly facts on the ground. The United Nations sent in thousands of military peacekeepers—there are around 17,000 today—but the blood continued to flow. Donor nations sank $500 million into an election in 2006—Congo’s first truly inclusive one—but that didn’t change things either.

Boy working in a precious metals mine in Eastern Congo (Source: National Geographic)

Boy working in a precious metals mine in Eastern Congo (Source: National Geographic)

Sometime around 2008, a critical mass of human rights groups and American lawmakers started asking a crucial question: What about the minerals? What if Congo’s mineral trade could be cleaned up and the rebels shut down? A “blood diamonds” campaign in the late 1990s had exposed how the West African diamond trade was funding rebellions on that side of Africa. What about a similar conflict-minerals campaign for Congo?

America took the lead on making an effective change in mining for any conflict materials and on July 21, 2010, President Barak Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill that included a special section on conflict minerals. The law called for publicly listed American companies to disclose whether any of their products included minerals from mines controlled by armed groups in or around Congo. Though Dodd-Frank did not explicitly ban corporations from using Congo’s conflict minerals, it made big companies worry about being linked with what is arguably the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

Many leading electronic companies, including Intel, Motorola and HP, had already taken action to understand where the materials were coming from to fuel their products and how they could improve their supply chain. Since the law went into effect, many other companies, but not all, have also made progress auditing their supply chains, according to the Enough Project, an American nonprofit that ranks major company efforts to create a clean minerals trade.

This story makes me look at my smartphone and laptop in a different way. It may also cause more people to doubt claims that electronic media is “green” compared to other alternatives, such as print and paper.

In the end, we all need to challenge ourselves to learn more about the products we use every day. This means purchasing products from companies that lead the way in sustainability and are making efforts to improve their performance and supply chain, whether it is print, paper or electronic devices.

Many of the details shared in the article were taken directly from the original National Geographic story. You can also access it at:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/conflict-minerals/gettleman-text

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fsjpegWhen it comes to the sustainability of the Graphic Communications Value Chain, it’s important to separate verifiable facts from opinions and misleading information. Fortunately, Two Sides (www.twosides.us) has the resources that can help.

Two Sides has posted nine new 2-page Fact Sheets related to the sustainability of print and paper. Written in clear, easy-to-understand language and including citations to verifiable sources, these Fact Sheets make it easy to understand that print, paper, and packaging have a great environmental story to tell.

Below you’ll find a quick summary of each of the nine new Fact Sheets, plus a link leading to the fact sheet itself.  Please feel free to share these valuable resources with colleagues, customers, students and local media. You can be part of Two Sides’ efforts to end the harmful practice of “greenwashing” (using inflated, inaccurate, or misleading data to misrepresent environmental performance).  Check out the facts, then click through for the downloadable Fact Sheets:

FACT: “Go Green – Go Paperless” and “Save-a-Tree” claims are misleading and may not meet best practices for environmental marketing.  These marketing messages ignore the highly sustainable nature of print on paper – it comes from a renewable resource, is recyclable and recycled more than any other commodity in the U.S. and has great carbon characteristics. Learn More

FACT: Anti-paper environmental claims are often inaccurate and should be challenged. After research showed that more than half of America’s leading banks, utilities and telecommunications companies are using misleading anti-paper environmental marketing claims, Two Sides began its “myth-busting” campaign. To date, more than 40% of those contacted have eliminated unsubstantiated anti-paper claims from their marketing. Learn More

FACT: E-Media also have environmental impacts. A recent study estimates that developing countries will produce at least twice as much electronic waste (e-waste) as developed countries within the next six to eight years. Uncontrolled toxic emissions can result from the informal recycling practices often used in the developing world; these emissions can include dioxins, furans, and cyanide. Learn More

FACT: The carbon footprint of paper is not as high as you may think. The U.S. forest products industry is a leader in the production of renewable energy, with more than 65% of the on-site energy needed to produce paper products derived from carbon-neutral biomass. Learn More

FACT: Sustainable forest management benefits people and the planet. In addition to replenishing the supply of recycled fiber, the U.S. paper industry’s perpetual use of trees harvested from responsibly managed forests has a host of economic, social and environmental benefits. Learn More

FACT: Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. In 2012, nearly 51 million tons or 65.1% of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling, up 76% since 1990. The industry’s new recovery goal is to exceed 70% by 2020. Learn More

FACT: Most of the energy used to make pulp and paper is renewable. The print and paper industry accounts for only 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions; at a global level, the greenhouse gas emissions from the forest products industry value chain are largely offset by sequestration in forests and forest products. Learn More

FACT: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Paper is made from a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable and compostable; in the United States, paper is recycled more than any other commodity in the municipal solid waste stream, including plastics, glass and metals. Learn More

FACT: Paper supports sustainable forest management. The income U.S. landowners receive for products grown on their land—including wood for papermaking—encourages them to maintain, renew and manage this valuable resource sustainably, instead of converting forestland to non-forest uses. Learn More

Led by sustainable and responsible forestry, paper production and printing, the U.S. Graphic Communications Value Chain is working to ensure that, in a world of scarce resources, print and paper’s unique recyclable and renewable qualities can be enjoyed for generations to come. By sharing these Fact Sheets, you can help Two Sides U.S. and its member companies strengthen the paper, packaging, print, and related industries—and make an important contribution to real environmental sustainability. Find more resources, plus information on how to become a member company, at www.twosides.us.

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bustPut on your dancing shoes and watch our latest animated video that features some great facts and figures about the important role that paper and print media play in an environmentally sustainable world.

Click this link to view the video

This is a great resource for professionals in the Graphic Communications Value Chain who want to share facts and figures, and dispel “greenwashing” myths about print and paper.

ecgrThe video is an animated version of our popular “Eco-Graphic”, a full-color Infographic poster available for download here.  The Eco-Graphic was created by Lynette Maymi, a design professional from Pompano Beach, Florida and winner of the Two Sides Eco-Graphic Challenge.

Thanks again to graphic designer Marco Morales and the Two Sides US sustainability and marketing committees for their great work and input on the video!

Phil Riebel, President, Two Sides U.S.

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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.

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Our new web page is up: Responsible Production and Use of Print and Paper

The objective of this resource is to help support a key element of the Two Sides mission which is to “promote the responsible production and use of print and paper”.

Whether you are reading a book or magazine, or writing notes on a piece of paper, the product you are using (print or paper…or both) has had a long and, sometimes complex, life before ending up in your hands.  What you do with it, i.e. keep it or recycle it, will also determine its overall impact on the environment.

This “life cycle” is key to understanding the overall environmental footprint of print and paper products.  The key factors driving this footprint are:

  • Raw material production, including forest management and the collection of recovered paper
  • Pulp and paper manufacturing
  • Printing and converting
  • Disposal and recycling
  • Transportation at various steps of this life cycle

As usual, when we start looking into the life-cycle of products, things get complicated due to the numerous steps and actors involved. 

In the case of paper and print, recycling and ensuring that forests are certified to standards such as SFI and FSC are a few examples of responsible production and use, but these are only the first basic steps in a much larger and complex life cycle.

The life cycle of printing and writing papers (from AF&PA, 2011)

The life cycle of printing and writing papers (from AF&PA, 2011)

Our new webpage outlines the life cycle of print and paper in more detail and the various ways in which producers and buyers can reduce the environmental impacts of their products.  It includes links to the following ten Reference Sheets, which are loaded with examples of topic-specific tools, reports and articles from our member companies, allied organizations and other well-know and credible sources:

  1. The Paper Life Cycle – Resources explaining “life cycle thinking” and how to aim for a continual reduction in the environmental footprint of print and paper.
  2. Sustainable Forest Management – Information on best practices, forest certification and how to curb illegal logging.
  3. Clean Production – Example of best practices for manufacturing pulp and paper, including energy efficiency and water reduction.
  4. Climate Change and Carbon Footprint – Selected examples of how companies can determine their carbon footprint and reduce it, and how climate change creates not only challenges, but opportunities, for print and paper.
  5. Recycling and Use of Recovered Paper – What is sustainable use of recycled fiber? Statistics on fiber use, import and export.
  6. Environmental Reporting – Examples of resources supporting open and transparent sustainability reporting.
  7. Eco-Labels and Environmental Claims – Information to help readers understand the various eco-labels and what is behind them, and to cut through the “greenwashing”.
  8. Guidelines for Responsible Paper Production, Use and Procurement – Guides and tools published by credible organizations to help define responsible procurement, production and use.
  9. Examples of Responsible Paper Procurement Policies – Policy examples from leading companies that are setting the pace for responsible paper procurement.
  10. Environmental Scorecards and Product Declarations – Examples of paper scorecards and declarations used to evaluate the environmental performance of various paper grades.

I invite you to share this information with your co-workers, customers, suppliers and others, and take an active part in the conversation about on the sustainability and value of print and paper.

Two Sides feels that the US Graphic Communications Value Chain has a great story to tell about the responsible production and use of print and paper, and about the perks that this value chain provides our communities.

Phil Riebel
President and COO, Two Sides US

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As little as 10 years ago, sustainable paper procurement policies were rare – crafted by a few forward-thinking companies that traditionally move ahead of the curve on sustainability issues and companies that were publicly engaged by environmental groups.  How times have changed!   Paper consumers, especially large commercial print and paper buyers, are now a driving force in the responsible production, use and disposal of printed media, using sustainable paper procurement policies not only as a tool to green their own supply chains, but also to advocate continuous environmental performance improvement throughout the paper life cycle.

In my experience helping companies develop sustainable paper procurement (SPP) policies, the toughest step is usually getting past the inevitable questions from senior management: “Why do we need an SPP policy and how much will it cost to implement it?”

The “why” is simple.  As global mega-companies like Walmart, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever drive sustainability deep into their supply chains, demonstrating a commitment to responsible sourcing, production, use and disposal is quickly evolving from an option to a requirement for doing business – including paper-related business.  The bottom line: do it now or get left behind.

A sustainable paper procurement policy spells out your company’s commitment and provides an effective way to concisely communicate it to your customers and other stakeholders.  It also provides a framework for delivering on that commitment, guiding your company toward continuous environmental performance improvement and encouraging your paper suppliers to take next steps in their own sustainability.  The ultimate result:  your company contributes not only to its own long-term success, but to real environmental progress!

The “how much” depends on your current practices and programs.  When estimating the cost of putting an SPP policy in place, companies are often surprised to find that they are already doing many of the things a policy will entail, like requiring that all their paper comes from legal sources, that they support third-party forest certification and use only paper that is certified or comes from non-controversial sources, and that their suppliers’ facilities have certified environmental management systems in place.   An SPP policy validates those initiatives already in place and helps focus them in a way that sheds light on opportunities for improvement.

With that said, SPP policies are designed to encourage continuous performance improvement across the paper life cycle, so long-term credibility requires setting some stretch goals.    Some companies include goals in their policy and revise them periodically as appropriate; others develop separate action plans.  Any additional financial commitment, of course, depends on how ambitious the goals are and the path a company chooses for achieving them.

To truly benefit the environment, SPP policies must be life cycle-driven, including common elements related to sustainable forest management and certification, resource conservation and environmental protection in the manufacturing process, energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction, waste management, recycling and corporate social responsibility.  The specifics, however, can vary widely by company and depend on a variety of factors ranging from an organization’s overall sustainability strategy and supply chain to the grades of paper purchased and end uses.  Once a policy with supporting goals is in place, it’s also important to be transparent in reporting progress.

If your company is ready to develop and implement (or update) an SPP there are lots of resources to help you get started.   One of the best resources is the World Resources Institute’s Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-based Products (Version 3).   Focused on the 10 Things You Should Know about the legal, environmental and social aspects of procurement, this detailed guide is designed specifically for companies that do not have in-house forest and forestry expertise.   For a shorter overview, check out Volume 1 of Sappi’s white paper series, Environmentally Responsible Paper Procurement Policies.

Top 10 things you should know about sustainable procurement of forest products (WRI and WBCSD)Finally, don’t be shy about taking advantage of others’ efforts.  Like any process, developing a sustainable paper procurement policy will be a learning experience.  Talk with people who’ve actually gone through the process and ask lots of questions. While no two companies or policies are exactly the same, hearing the experience of others may spark ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise considered and may help you avoid missteps that could come back to bite you.

Kathi Rowzie is a Two Sides guest blogger and a sustainability communications consultant with The Gagliardi Group in Memphis, Tennessee.

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