Turning the Page
Impacts of the Magazine Industry
Recommendations for Improvement
The PAPER Project: Co-op America, Independent Press Association, Conservatree 10jun01
The magazine industry is a significant contributor to deforestation, dioxin contamination, air pollution (including greenhouse gases) and water pollution. Environmental damage caused by this industry will escalate unless publishers increase their use of recycled-content paper. In its study of the industry, the PAPER Project found:
- Magazine production contributes extensively to deforestation.
U.S. magazine production uses more than 2.2 million tons of paper per
year, and this number is increasing as some sectors of the industry
experience tremendous growth. Magazines are printed almost exclusively
on papers made from virgin fiber, resulting in more than 35 million
trees being cut down each year. Virgin magazine paper production also
uses enormous amounts of energy and water, and produces considerably
more pollution than ecological paper alternatives.
- Less than 5% of magazine paper has any recycled content, and
even these recycled content papers generally contain only 10-30%
recycled fiber. Almost all magazine papers have been bleached with
chlorine or chlorine compounds, which produce extremely toxic dioxin.
- The vast majority of magazines are discarded within one year, and
few of these are recycled. Approximately 90% of all magazines are
discarded within a year of publication, and only about 20% of these
are recycled. In 1998, approximately 18,000 magazine titles were
published, producing a total of about 12 billion magazines; over 9
billion of these were landfilled or incinerated.
- Overproduction compounds the industry's impact. The magazine
industry's impact on the environment is compounded by systems that
reward the industry for overproduction of publications. These
inefficiencies are particularly apparent in magazines sold on
newsstands, versus those sold by subscription. Inefficiencies begin
with the publisher deliberately overproducing magazines to maximize
advertising rates and are compounded by distributors over-ordering to
ensure that no magazine rack is ever empty. Publishers rarely receive
the kind of timely and accurate retail sales information needed to
improve efficiency, and they have little economic incentive to reduce
print runs, as the marginal cost of each magazine is relatively low
(about 91 cents on average).
- Almost 3 billion magazines on newsstands are never read. About 4.7 billion magazines are delivered to newsstands each year. As a result of the above wasteful practices, about 2.9 billion of these are never read - enough magazines, placed end to end, to circle the Earth 20 times.
PAPER Project Recommended Solutions
To counter this poor environmental record, publishers need
to employ a two-pronged approach that includes introducing or increasing
post-consumer recycled content into the paper they use, as well as working with
retailers and distributors to achieve higher efficiency levels in terms of the
proportion of newsstand magazines that are actually sold to customers.
- The PAPER Project finds that high-quality recycled papers are widely
available for publications that use both coated and uncoated papers.
In the past, publishers have expressed concerns about the quality and
price of recycled papers. However, today's recycled paper is available
from top paper manufacturers and satisfies all printing requirements. Coated
magazine-grade papers with 10% post-consumer content and uncoated
papers with 30% post-consumer content are readily available. Recycled
- Meets the same technical specifications as virgin paper.
- Successfully runs on even the most demanding printing presses, office machines and copiers.
- Offers competitive brightness levels - from moderate to high, with pleasing light reflection and excellent print and color reproduction.
- Is available in virtually every grade and through the majority of printers, paper distributors and retail outlets.
- Is often priced equivalently with virgin papers, or price
differentials are quite small.
- A growing number of magazines are already successfully printing on
recycled papers. A number of magazines already are successfully
using paper that contains post-consumer recycled content. Magazines
including Blue, Discover and Outside have adopted these
environmentally friendly papers, and even smaller magazines with
limited budgets are successfully using them, too. A survey by the
Independent Press Association identified more than a dozen IPA members
that print on recycled-content paper, including Sierra, Earth
Island Journal, Amicus Journal, E Magazine, Mountainfreak, Terrain,
Orion, Orion Afield, California Wild, Wild Earth, World Watch and YES!
In addition, several magazines - including National Geographic,
Mother Jones and Utne Reader - have pledged to eliminate
old-growth fiber from their papers. This PAPER Project report provides
profiles of several magazines that have a history of successfully
printing on recycled paper.
- Publisher concerns regarding recycled papers can be resolved. Publishers
cite many reasons for their reluctance to change to more
environmentally responsible papers. The primary perceived barriers are
cost, quality and availability. Many of these concerns are based on
outdated perceptions of recycled paper, and some are simply myths.
This report discusses ways publishers can overcome real or perceived
obstacles to switching to recycled papers.
- Solutions to newsstand inefficiencies are possible. To increase
newsstand efficiency, associations such as the Magazine Publishers of
America and the Audit Bureau of Circulation must work with publishers,
retailers and distributors to establish more environmentally
responsible management practices. These practices would include:
- Better management of newsstand sales, aiming to achieve a 60%
- Improved ratebase calculation protocols that provide
financial incentives for greater efficiency.
- More efficient inventory systems that provide up-to-date
information to publishers on where magazines are sold and in
- Better management of newsstand sales, aiming to achieve a 60% sell-through rate.
- The PAPER Project provides assistance that will make it easier for
publishers to switch to recycled papers. Key PAPER Project
resources available to publishers include:
- An extensive resource list of recycled-content papers
appropriate for a wide range of publications available at www.EcoPaperAction.org.
- Advice on alternative paper purchasing arrangements, such as
cooperatives and long-term contracts, to increase
availability and reduce costs.
- Technical assistance for publishers switching to recycled
- An extensive resource list of recycled-content papers appropriate for a wide range of publications available at www.EcoPaperAction.org.
source: http://www.ecopaperaction.org/whitepaper.htm 10jun01
Complete PDF available at http://www.ecopaperaction.org/turningthepage.pdf
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