Sustainability – Shannan Hodgson

Papers made from recycled pulp are now often as good as virgin stock – and they’re a whole lot better for your conscience. To move forward and increase take-up, we must help designers make informed decisions when they choose what to print on

Recycled papers are a vital tool for designers, but having the knowledge to make good decisions about their use is an important step in promoting sustainability. This year, paper manufacturers will play a key role in helping designers to understand the environmental credentials of paper and the resources available to help them make sound recommendations on Green paper usage to clients.

With designers often advising clients on paper choices, and recycled papers continuing to increase in demand, it is important that designers understand how environmental credentials work alone and together, and which are suited for a particular job.

Designers recently revealed to us they have seen a 50 per cent increase in demand for environmentally friendly papers over the past two years. However, more than half (53 per cent) also do not feel that they have the level of understanding required to provide sound recommendations on sustainable paper usage for client briefs.

One common misconception is that paper is not an environmentally friendly option. In fact, it is one of the few materials that, when used responsibly, is totally renewable and recyclable. With paper-manufacturing technologies becoming more environmentally efficient, and the quality of recycled papers now comparable with those produced from virgin fibres, the carbon footprint of printed work is shrinking. Designers, however, must feel empowered to advise their clients on how to minimise the impact of their paper usage.

In 2010, the key to ensuring designers are in this position is to improve transparency across product development. Just as designers can educate their clients, paper manufacturers must provide figures on environmental impact and give clear comparisons.

Clear comparisons
One of the ways in which we are helping to raise awareness of Green issues is through the introduction of environmental benefit statements. These are created on a bespoke basis and include figures about the equivalent reduction in landfill for any given job using recycled paper.

The statement outlines how, by turning to recycled stock, a company has reduced its impact on the environment using measures such as water, energy and wood consumption, and CO2 emissions. The statements help designers to make clear comparisons between using recycled and nonrecycled papers and, for the first time, show clients the exact environmental impact of their work. They can also be added to applications such as annual reports or brochures to promote a sustainable image and demonstrate how recycled papers can reduce a business’ environmental footprint.

We’ve had a really strong response to the statements from designers and printers since launching in 2008. This highlights the need for clearer explanations of how paper products impact upon the environment – something that is likely to be a trend across all industries this year. Some designers and printers are switching to our papers because of this increased transparency.

For example, Simon Smode, group managing director at DCL Print, believes products such as Satimat Green – our 75 per cent post-consumer Forest Stewardship Council-certified recycled and 25 per cent FSC-certified virgin fibre product – are pushing the boundaries of expectation when it comes to the quality of recycled papers.

With a number of high-profile customers looking to demonstrate their sustainability commitment, Smode believes Satimat Green is one of the only high-quality recycled FSC-certified products on the market that ticks all the boxes – triple-coated, National Association of Paper Merchants-accredited, excellent printability and quicker drying times.

He also recognises how products such as Satimat Green help customers to understand the positive impact they can have on the environment by opting for recycled papers. As a result, Smode often recommends its use in preference to similar stocks.

Highlighting benefits
As well as clear information on the environmental impact of printed work, designers also need a resource giving market trends and opinions to help decide which products are best suited for briefs. To prepare for the growing demand, we launched a website – www.recycled-papers.co.uk – to assist designers looking for new ways to help clients reduce the environmental impact of creative materials.

The site brings together news, information and opinions on recycled papers – developed to showcase the benefits of using them and explain the environmental credentials. In particular, we wanted to advise designers about what to look for when selecting paper stocks for the growing number of briefs where sustainability is a consideration.

Many designers still believe they are unable to achieve the same quality and print finish when using recycled papers. Product development has advanced greatly and will continue to push forward this year, so the quality is now consistent. Our website aims to showcase this and highlight how switching to Green stocks does not have to impact on the printed result.

Vision for this year
Protecting our environment is something that affects us all and designers should be encouraged to think about the impact the materials they use have on the world. While many paper manufacturers are focusing product development on creating Greener stocks, we need a greater level of understanding among those specifying the papers before the full benefits can be realised. Explaining these credentials in a clear and comparable way is the next step in promoting paper as a truly sustainable resource.

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