A Designer & Production Manager's Experience with Environmentally Friendly Paper

George Pappas, Marketing Manager for Simon Miller Sales Company, interviewed Deborah Bruner, Design & Production Manager at Cornell Press about her use and experience with environmentally friendly paper.

Simon Miller Sales Company is a first line paper broker/merchant representing paper mills in North America and Europe serving the book publishing, catalog, magazine and converting markets.

You can reach George Pappas at 215-923-3600 or at george.pappas@simonmiller.com

Deborah Bruner can be reached at dnb5@cornell.edu

Terminology key:

ECF - Elemental Chlorine Free: A bleaching process that does not use elemental chlorine. ECF does, however, use chlorine dioxide.

TCF - Totally Chlorine Free: No chlorine compounds are used in the bleaching process.

* ECF vs. TCF: ECF is an end of pipe technology that reduces, but does not eliminate dioxin. TCF is a pollution prevention technology. A recent EPA dioxin reassessment has linked dioxin as a cause of human cancer. Chlorine bleaching in the pulp process is a source of dioxin.

FSC - Forestry Stewardship Council: An independent certification process that audits a company's compliance with sustainable harvesting practices. Audits are performed by independent third parties. FSC has global acceptance.


George Pappas: What has been Cornell Press' experience with environmentally friendly papers?

Deborah Bruner: Cornell has had a very positive experience with all types of environmentally friendly papers, including TCF, recycled, or FSC-certified. They are our first choice for the books we publish.

GP: Some people believe that environmentally friendly paper is more expensive. What has been your experience?

DB: Sometimes environmentally friendly paper is more expensive, and sometimes it's less than virgin paper. For several years now, I've been buying recycled paper for less than comparable virgin grades. In the past I have paid slightly higher prices for TCF and FSC-certified papers, but this was mostly due to limited sources and availability. Currently I'm paying very competitive prices for TCF. Here at Cornell Press, we believe it is important to make a commitment to such papers for the environmental and other benefits. We think it is important to stimulate demand for such products.

GP: Are there any myths in the marketplace that short-circuit a production manager's ability to use environmentally friendly paper?

DB: I think there are fewer myths now than there were in the early 1990s when I first started asking my printers about the possibilities of working with recycled or TCF papers. Back then, there was still some lingering concern (from experiences a decade or so earlier when recycled paper first came out) that recycled paper would cause problems on press (dirt, web breaks, etc.).

To overcome these concerns, I assured my printers that I would partner with them in any tests of environmentally friendly papers and share the costs should should there be paper problems on press. Printers tended to be a little afraid of trying something for fear that if the paper failed in some way, the publisher would blame the printer, not the paper, possibly resulting in the printer having to shoulder any financial losses. I researched the papers and talked with the printers. We were able to switch to environmentally friendly papers with no paper failure or problems.

In the last few years or so, recycled and TCF papers have a good track record, therefore printers are more willing to try these papers. I still maintain a collaborative approach with my printers, though, which I think is very, very important. Publishers need to let printers know they're willing to partner and share in the successes or failures.

GP: Have any of your authors expressed an interest in having their books printed on recycled or TCF papers?

DB: No, none of our authors have directly expressed such a desire, to my knowledge. However, I have heard of authors at other presses expressing such preferences.

GP: What has been the response from your customers with respect to your proactive stance on using environmentally friendly papers?

DB: We have received positive feedback from other presses, from fellow production colleagues in the publishing community, and from the media. I once received a letter from a librarian in the Midwest who noticed the environmental statement on the copyright page of one of our titles. She wrote to say how much she appreciated this sort of publisher commitment.

GP: Your environmental policy states in part, "Production and design staff have an especially important role in this process: by performing a life-cycle analysis of the products we depend on...." Can you expand on this statement, that is, how does life cycle affect the specification of paper used?

DB: Performing a life-cycled analysis of a particular paper informs a production or design manager of the fiber source. For example, if you want to keep the "old growth" out of the paper you use, you must perform a life-cycle analysis to track where the fiber is derived from. A life-cycle analysis is fairly easy to implement. I use an audit form that I give to my printers. The paper buyer at the printer, in turn, asks the mills to supply the requested information. The audit form allows me to make more informed decisions about the paper I choose to specify in Cornell Press titles. Once upon a time the terms "TCF" or "30% Post Consumer" told me all I needed to know. Now I want to know more about my paper. While it's important to me to buy TCF or recycled, I also want to ensure that no old-growth trees are being cut to make the paper I specify. It's all about voting with my dollars (or more accurately, Cornell dollars).

Life-cycle analysis also can be applied to examining the mills where the paper is made. What kind of pollution controls does the mill have in place? What is the mill's stance on TCF vs ECF bleaching? How a mill makes its paper is just as important to me as its source.
© Copyright Print Buyers Online.com, Inc.