Over the past three years the book industry needed three to four million tons of paper which translates to at least 60 million trees worldwide. The paper industry ranks number four in carbon dioxide emissions among manufacturing industries.
The Society of American Foresters released a 2007 study titled the State of Americas Forests which acknowledged that the U.S. is one of the biggest “producers and consumers of forest products.” U.S. consumption of forest products is greater than its production by 4.2 billion cubic feet.
About 42 percent of wood harvested is used make paper, according to the Environmental Paper Network’s (EPN) The State of the Paper Industry. Forests store around 50 percent of all terrestrial carbon. Among manufacturing industries the paper and pulp industry is the fourth biggest emitter of GHGs, and releases nine percent of all manufacturing carbon dioxide emissions.
Paper that ends ups in landfills instead of being recycled gives off methane which has a warming effect 23 times greater than carbon dioxide. One-third of all waste in landfills is paper, and landfills account for 34 percent of human-related methane emissions, according to the EPN’s study. The EPA identified paper decomposition as one of the largest sources of landfill methane.
Only 37 percent of U.S. pulp is produced from recycled paper, but 45 percent of tissue products are from recycled content. Thirty-two percent of U.S. newsprint is from recycled paper.
The EPN estimates that if industrial countries used 60 percent recycled paper for fiber and increased production efficiency by five percent, the worldwide consumption of wood fiber would decrease, and would use 56 percent less wood fiber.
The Green Press Initiative (GPI) lists the benefits of using recycled fiber as opposed to virgin fiber. One of the biggest benefits of using recycled fiber is that it emits 38 percent less GHGs. Recycled fiber also uses 44 percent less energy to produce, and conserves up to 34 mature trees for every ton replacing virgin fiber.
GPI released its Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper in 2007 which calls for the book industry to shift its use of recycled fiber from the five percent estimated to 30 percent by 2012.
Big publishing houses announce goals to use more recycled paper
Some of the big publishing houses have goals to use more recycled paper. In 2006 Random House launched its Environmental Paper Initiative with the goal of increasing its use of recycled paper tenfold, to 30 percent, by 2010. In 2006 only three percent of its titles were printed on recycled paper.
Last November Simon & Schuster announced its commitment to using at least 10 percent recycled paper. By 2012 S&S wants to 25 percent of all its paper to be from recycled fiber.
Thomas Nelson recently developed a program to reduce the company’s paper consumption by at least 30 percent by 2012, and will use at least 20 percent recycled fiber.
Scholastic, the textbook publisher, set a goal to increase its use of recycled paper by 25 percent within the next five years which will cause a reduction of 23,988,000 lbs. of GHG emissions.