(UPM, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, July 21, 2007) - Over 115 leaders in the publishing, retail, catalogue and printing businesses and the forest industry met in Grand Rapids, home of UPM's Blandin Paper mill, for a three-day environmental workshop organized by the Gravure Association of America.
Sustainability of the forest resource was the common theme of presentations on forest management practices, certification programs and corporate responsibility. "The room was filled with leading companies in competition with each other in their fields, but they came together to talk about common concerns and goals," said GAA President and CEO Bill Martin.
Participants included forestry giants such as UPM and Stora Enso, and paper users including retailers J.C. Penney, Lands End, Kohl's, Macy's, Target and Office Depot and publishers Time Inc. and Hearst Enterprises. The US Forest Service, Forest Products Association of Canada, Nature Conservancy and American Forest Foundation were also among the presenters.
"If you don't know the environmental (carbon) footprint of the paper you're buying, you could make a big mistake," said presenter Phil Riebel, Environmental Director for UPM North America. "You can't rely on perception. For instance, the type of fiber—raw versus recycled—used to make your paper may have little to do with the overall environmental footprint. Using 100% recycled fiber in your catalogue or magazine paper could actually be less environmentally friendly than using raw fiber from certified forests when you consider the impact of processing and trucking the recycled fiber long distances to mills in rural regions." Riebel pointed out that in Europe, where population concentration has made recycling more successful, UPM mills use a high portion of recycled fiber in paper production.
The world's largest magazine publisher, Time Inc., has been tackling the climate change issue on several fronts. The life cycle of a magazine begins in the forest and ends, too often, in public landfill sites where methane gases contributing to global warming are produced, explained David Refkin, Director of Sustainable Development for Time Inc. Recent issues of Time and Sports Illustrated have featured climate change articles focused on public education and action. On the supplier front, Refkin said they will work with paper companies on solutions to reduce environmental impact. "We will be working on paper production, energy, distribution and recycling. We won't be sitting in our offices, asking our paper suppliers to do this alone; we'll be working with them."
Hearst Enterprises is another large paper user that has taken a leadership role in ensuring the sustainability of the forest resource. "The stakeholders are diverse, including readers, advertisers, paper suppliers, government, forest landowners, ENGOs (environmental non-governmental organizations), foundations, the public and others. It's difficult to consider them all, but we're trying to take a holistic approach to sustainability," said David Schirmer, VP and General Manager for Hearst Enterprises. To ensure their paper comes from sustainably managed forests, Mr. Schirmer pointed to tracking and measuring systems. "We have to balance the inherent conflicts, respect regional differences, listen to and learn from stakeholders and, very importantly, embrace continuous learning and improvement."
David Ford, President and CEO of Metafore, talked about certification as a tool that assures paper buyers their product is coming from well managed forests. Certified forests are managed to standards developed by diverse stakeholders, and credible certification programs are audited by third-party certifying bodies. "At the same time, we must continue to move to a much broader look at the impacts of paper making and paper use," he added. "We need increased transparency and collaboration across the value chain. Carbon reduction is the priority, but we also need a broad focus on evaluating the life cycle of paper."
The GAA event was the first in a three-year series of workshops on the environment. This week's focus was sustainability. Next year, the key topic will be energy efficiency and climate change. The workshop was hosted by UPM Blandin Paper.
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