Along with competing media platforms and the economy, the graphic arts community is faced with another critical issue; the public perception that the use of paper (vs. digital) is bad for the environment. Paper companies and allied advocacy groups are fighting back, employing a range of tactics to...
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“The PAPERbecause print campaign gives Domtar a platform to show how paper—a sustainable, renewable and recyclable product—fits so nicely into our lives,” says Lewis Fix, vice president of sustainable business and brand management at Domtar. “Domtar is a leader in sustainable paper production, and we promote the responsible use of paper. PAPERbecause reminds people of why paper is so vital today.”
In March, Domtar renewed its sponsorship of the Environmental Film Festival, which plants Domtar with leading environmental filmmakers committed to managing natural resources. Domtar provided FSC-certified Cougar paper—part of its EarthChoice line of environmentally and socially responsible papers—for the printing of the festival programs.
For the elementary school crowd Domtar officially launched an educational site this past September. The Forest Academy, which builds on an earlier website, features games designed to be fun and informative about trees and forest ecology.
Printing Industries of America and its affiliates The Print Council, Two Sides, and the Printing and Graphics Association are joining paper companies in the quest to help printers get the word out to print buyers and consumers that paper is not the source of all things bad for the environment.
Two Sides is a non-profit group with a three-part mission: promote sustainability, dispel common myths, and provide verifiable information. Currently in 12 countries—the US and Australia both joined in 2012—its member base covers the whole graphic communications value chain; any company that makes its livelihood from print and paper, as well as trade groups and colleges and universities. Domtar and Mohawk are both members.
The website provides news articles and videos, as well Myth vs. Fact informational sheets, complete with source documents, all downloadable. For example, “The Myth: Making paper destroys forests; The Fact: Paper production supports sustainable forest management” includes a seven-page document listing verifiable information that dispels the myth.
Two Sides is also engaging in two major initiatives to reach industry outsiders. “We are engaging with banks, utilities, and telecomm companies and challenging them on their “Go Green, Go Paperless” email messages,” explains Phil Riebel, president and COO, Two Sides U.S. “We did a survey of 94 companies and found that half of them use this message, so we are working with them to stop sending these anti-paper messages with respect to the environment. They are using an environmental message to promote electronic billing.”
Two Sides’ approach is to educate the companies on why their “Go Green” email program isn’t correct. “There are no facts behind the message; they don’t understand the sustainable features of print and paper and they ignore the environmental impact of electronic media,” says Riebel. “ When you switch to electronic media, you aren’t eliminating impacts, just switching to another form of communication that has a different environmental impact.”
Riebel points out that “Go Green, Go Paperless” doesn’t meet the company’s best practices of being more environmentally friendly. “When you make that claim, you need verifiable facts that show it is true,” says Riebel. “Very few companies have that.”
As Two Sides gets traction, there will be more press releases and media attention. “In the US, three companies we are talking to have removed their claims,” notes Riebel.
A second major initiative is the January 2013 launch of a consumer print ad campaign and website. The ad campaign will appear in business-to-business and business-to-consumer magazines and newspapers; all ad space is donated. “We are getting good support from the B2B community,” says Reibel.
Finally, Two Sides is collaborating with allies such as the Print Media Center and Print Buyers International, networking with their members and speaking at conferences.
Associations Jump on Board
Printing Industries of America has created the Value of Print, a multi-tiered approach that includes the creation of collateral material—brochures informational sheets, posters, advertisements—available to the industry, as well as an outreach program developed for outside the industry. For example, in May, 2010 an interview for Sky Radio, “Print’s Image as it Relates to the Environment,” aired on 29,000 American Airline flights, accompanied by a CNN Airport Network commercial.