Mark Rushton, Editor, Pulp & Paper International Magazine, RISI
July 23, 2013
It has been one BIG month for graphic paper bashing. Everywhere I seem to look at the moment paper is coming in for a hard time. Take the latest report from the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) in the US. It has calculated that total consumer magazine ad pages dropped 4.9% in the first half of 2013 compared to 2012, but more worrying than that, major news magazines Time, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Week, and The New Yorker had a combined plummet of 18%!
And it is not like the magazine publishers are not doing anything about this decline; far from it they are pulling out all the stops, with discounted issues on the newsstands, crazy deals on subscriptions, and cut price ad pages.
To add insult to injury, I attended an event in London this month wittily entitled "Paper Vapour" which was held by the European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN). As the title suggests the event was aimed at major paper buyers who were told in no uncertain terms to stop their terrible purchasing habits which are killing the planet. Some of the "facts" that were being presented by anti-paper activists Jim Ford and Mandy Haggith, included that:
- Global pulp and paper manufacturing emits more than double the amount of CO2 the airline industry does
- Is responsible for 8% of global emissions
- Is the biggest user of water in the industrial countries
- uses 42% of harvested wood globally
Kick a man when he is down
Ford and Haggith in their presentations also stated that making a tonne of paper from wood requires 98 tonnes of other resources, and that for each bit of solid carbon that passes through our lives in the form of paper, 10 times as much carbon is released into the atmosphere, and oh.... thrown in for good measure...they say that using less paper can make the world a fairer place.
Talk about kicking a man when he is already down, have they not noticed that paper use is on its own rapid, suicidal spiral and doesn't really need any help from the EEPN. Also it does throw up the question of just what year in the 1700s they visited their last paper mill!
The Document Police
One really interesting, and less emotive presentation at the event was by Jazz Chana who is project manager for document lifecycle at the Co-Operative Bank in the UK. Actually his real title should be ‘Document Police Officer' as it is his job to make sure that no one is using any paper that is not absolutely necessary in his bank. And he has had some success - the organization has cut down on paper use by 71% in just one year, and has saved a fortune - including £20 million Chana says on the building of a new head office that needed two less floors because of less paper archive storage.
Interestingly he did not allude to carbon emissions, destroying the planet or paper induced Armageddon once in his 40 minute presentation which was all about making efficiencies and cost trimming.
Surely there is much worse offending going on in other industries,for instance wood going straight for burning for energy? Perhaps what the Paper Vapour event did do was highlight the fact that this industry really has to get better at reporting individually on its own carbon emission status so that it can at least offer a solid defence when such damaging allegations are laid at its door.
There has been a full and solid response from Two Sides refuting and questioning a lot of what was said on behalf of the pulp and paper industry in general and which can be accessed here: Two Sides challenges EEPN claims