In the early part of the 21st century, enterprises of all types were being pressured about environmental responsibility, green supply chains, and sustainable business practices. Magazine publishers were no exception, but like other businesses, were often slow on the uptake because of costs. Today, going green is easier and less expensive for publishers, but there is still an economic aspect: Customers are pushing for green publishing practices, and advertisers are taking notice. How do your publishing practices align with the goals of your environmentally concerned consumers?
Going paperless is not synonymous with going green
In the early days of the environmental movement, forest preservation was a key focus, and therefore magazine publishers were a prime target for groups wanting change. Because of new forestry management practices implemented back then, our forests are now sustainable. Forests are continually replanted to replenish what is harvested and at a rate that will keep up with demand. What magazine publishers need to do to help ensure the sustainability of forests is to use paper from a certified sustainable source. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) are the two main certification programs. They provide third-party verification that wood and pulp suppliers support and practice responsible forest management principles.
When companies are urged to go green, among the first things they think of is to cut back on paper usage. But going paperless is not necessarily greener. With today’s sustainability practices, a significant drop in paper usage will lead to less demand and landowners will repurpose their land for something more profitable than forests. This could actually lead to a reduction of forestland and wildlife habitats. Therefore, the argument of paper production harming the environment through deforestation is no longer relevant. In fact, the steps taken to alleviate the risk to forests have created stability in the paper production industry. Moving toward paperless could actually do more harm than good in some instances.
Sourcing the raw product produces pollutants that contribute to poor air quality and climate change
Turning the sourced timber products into paper creates harmful greenhouse gasses and wastes billions of gallons of water. Packaging sealants and printing inks also can have an adverse effect on the environment, as can the energy used to transport source products and to deliver published hard copies. There is also the problem of landfill waste, where unsold or disposed of copies end up.
Ecofriendly materials and business processes
Instead of analyzing just paper usage, review the entire production and distribution supply chain. Partner with paper manufacturers who use eco-friendly harvesting practices, and printers who use certified material sources, and environmentally friendly printing inks (e.g., vegetable, soy based). Other measures for becoming more eco-friendly include:
- More targeted direct marketing to reduce wasted paper/envelopes, cleansed address lists
- Co-mailing or grouping different publications that are going to the same approximate destination
- Distributed printing, which takes advantage of digital printing to print magazines closer to their destination
Save a tree with POD
Print-on-demand (POD) is another way publishers can lessen their environmental impact. By printing only as needed after the first printing, POD reduces wasted paper, ink, and associated printing costs, lowers energy consumption, and has zero warehousing and storage costs. POD results in fewer unsold books, which results in less waste in landfills. Digital printing also enables shorter print runs, reducing energy consumption and waste.
From utilizing plant-based inks to consciously reducing energy consumption and paper waste, the publishing industry has an abundance of opportunities to reduce its carbon footprint while still providing the magic that is a printed publication to the public. If you would like to discuss ways your publishing operations can become more eco-friendly without cutting back on quality, the experts at Sheridan can assess your processes and recommend methods and technologies for a greener future.