Correcting Common Myths about Printing Paper and Deforestation

A recent Two Sides North America survey showed that 48% of Americans believe paper is bad for the environment, and 60% believe U.S. forests are shrinking. That’s not true.

In honor of International Print Day (October 20, 2021), we compiled some facts that print buyers should know about the relationship between printing paper use and deforestation.

North American forests are a renewable resource and are not shrinking. U.S. forest area grew by 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, and net forest area in Canada remained stable at 857 million acres during the same period. This finding was reported in the 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment conducted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Using paper for printing and packaging does not contribute to deforestation. According to the FAO report, the greatest forest loss occurs in regions of the world that use the least wood.

Demand for sustainably produced paper products provides a strong financial incentive for private forest landowners to manage their land responsibly and keep it forested rather than selling or converting it for non-forest uses.(U.S. Forest Service, 2019).

A 2019 U.S. Forest Service report noted that tree harvesting in the U.S. occurs on less than 2% of forestland each year. This is less than the nearly 3% of forest trees that are disturbed annually by natural events such as insects, disease and fire.

About 89% of wood harvested in the U.S. comes from privately owned forests which provide most of the wood for domestically produced wood and paper products. (U.S. Forest Service, 2019).

U.S. and Canadian paper and paper-based packaging companies are instrumental in achieving sustainable forestry objectives. Sustainable forestry is a comprehensive, science-based approach to protecting and conserving this vital natural resource.

The U.S. Forest Service defines sustainable forestry as meeting the forest resources needs and values of the present without compromising the similar capability of future generations. Sustainable forestry is a land stewardship ethic. It integrates growing, harvesting and regenerating trees for useful products with the protection and conservation of soil, air and water quality, wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Sustainable forestry also takes into account how the forest contributes to global carbon cycles, aesthetics, and long-term social and economic benefits.

Certification organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative rigorously audit forestry practices. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) independently certify to paper consumers that the products they use come from responsibly managed forests.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, more than half of the world’s certified forests are in North America.

About Two Sides North America

Two Sides North America is an independent, non-profit organization that works to dispel common misperceptions about paper and printing. Through fact sheets and other educational materials, they inform businesses and consumers about the sustainability, versatility, and attractiveness of print, paper and paper-based packaging.

The Two Sides global network includes more than 600 member companies across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Member companies span the Graphic Communications and Paper-based Packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, paper-based packaging, and related fields.

For more facts about the sustainability of paper and paper-based packaging, visit: https:/twosidesna.org

RECOMMENDED READING

How Do We End the Myths About Paper Use and Forests? Everybody has a Part to Play! – Two Sides North America (twosidesna.org)

Demand for Sustainable Print Technologies Will Create New Business Opportunities

More environmentally friendly printing is emerging as a key industry trend for the 2020s. This trend is examined in detail in the Smithers report “The Future of Green Printing to 2026,

Published in August 2021, the report profiles the evolution of circular economy principles, key legislative initiatives, the impact on analog and digital print processes, and all major print product segments (Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Advertising, Catalogs, Commercial, Security applications, Transactional print, Printed décor and textiles, Packaging, and Labels).

Smithers’ “Future of Green Printing to 2026” report examines the current state of green printing, shifting consumer attitudes, and the market shifts that ultimately provide the basis for the growth of green printing.

For example, brand owners and consumers are increasingly seeking and choosing solutions that minimize carbon emissions and waste. Print-service providers (PSPs), ink and media suppliers, and equipment manufacturers that invest in more sustainable solutions over the next five years are likely to be rewarded.

New Business Opportunities

The report examines specific opportunities that will evolve at each stage of the print value chain. For example:

Cutting waste in makeready and set-up will favor wider use of digital (inkjet and electrophotography) print systems. A forecast reduction in the average run length for many print jobs will magnify this impact

The rapid adoption of bio-based solvent and water-based inks will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds.

Sales of sustainable substrates will increase, including recycled fiber and virgin paper grades from sustainably managed forests. For PSPs there is an onus to limit use of virgin materials and print on recycled paper grades when a premium surface is not necessary

Packaging designers will move away from the existing plastic packaging to fiber-based alternatives. Print-service providers can capitalize on this trend by retooling their print lines to support these less uniform substrates.

New fiber sources for printing papers will be studied, including bamboo or agricultural by-products.

Recycled plastic and biopolymer substrates will be used more widely in some packaging applications

Investments will rise in print processes that minimize the use of secondary raw materials, such as water consumption for wash off.

There will be greater support for technology platforms that enable the collection and reuse of print materials, both in industrial closed-loop and consumer recycling streams.

Reshoring production and printing will improve supply-chain security and reduce carbon emissions and wastage in transit.

Larger organizations can switch to centralized printing models, with a single server assigning job requests most efficiently across its network of presses and end-users. This can also extend into the integration of web-to-print platforms for consumer sales.

For more information, download a brochure from the Smithers website: The Future of Green Printing to 2026 | Market Reports & Research | Smithers

The Smithers Methodology

This report is based on extensive primary and secondary research. Primary research consisted of targeted interviews with printing material suppliers, converters and experts drawn from key markets. This was supported by secondary research in the form of extensive literature analysis of published data, official government statistics, domestic and international trade organization data, company websites, industry reports, trade press articles, presentations, and attendance at trade events.

Groups that can benefit from the information in this report include: print-business owners; suppliers of raw materials and consumables; manufacturers of printing machinery and equipment; print buyers; and consultants and analysts.

About the Author: David Zwang

Print and publishing consultant David Zwang has helped companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach for over 40 years. He specializes in process analysis, automation, engineering and strategic development for firms in the fields of publishing and packaging. He is currently the Chairman of the Ghent Workgroup (GWG), an international organization of graphic arts users, associations, and software developers that is building best practices for publishing and packaging workflows.

Recipients of 2021 Sustainable Business Recognition Awards Named by PRINTING United Alliance

On Earth Day, 2021, the PRINTING United Alliance named the 15 recipients of its 2021 Sustainable Business Recognition Awards. The awards honor companies for sustainable business practices as well as projects that have reduced the company’s environmental footprint, improved employee safety and well-being, and optimized the company’s bottom line.

 

This year’s honorees include: 9 print-service providers and 6 suppliers of print-industry equipment or materials.

Print-Service Providers

Albert Basse Associates

Bolger Vision Beyond Print

Echo Communications

Empire Screen Printing

LEM Products

MegaPrint

Night Owls

Surrey Digital Printing

T-One Print PTY Ltd

Suppliers

ColorLogic GmbH

Lawson Screen and Digital Products

Ricoh USA

S-One Holdings Corp.

Stratojet USA

Vapor Apparel

“PRINTING United Alliance proudly serves as a leader in guiding our members on how to implement and navigate environmental, health, and safety initiatives and best practices in what often can be an ever-changing, confusing environment,” said Marci Kinter, vice-president, government and regulatory affairs, PRINTING United Alliance. “We are proud of these members who go above and beyond in implementing extraordinary measures in environmental sustainability and responsibility.”

“S-One is very pleased to received the 2021 PRINTING United Alliance Sustainable Business Recognition Award,” said Art Lambert, co-founder, S-One Holdings Corporation. “We are committed to reducing the impact of printing on the environment by developing innovative, sustainable printing materials across all of our product lines.” Companies in the S-One portfolio include ABAQA, Avatrex, Brand Management Group, DIGIPRINT SUPPLIES, LexJet, S-One Labels & Packaging, and Utopia Digital Technologies.

“We are honored to be recognized once again by PRINTING United Alliance with the Sustainable Business Recognition Award,” said Maureen O’Connor, president and CEO, LEM Products, Inc. “Our daily culture of safety and compliance in both occupational health as well as environmental responsibility is something that has become a shared experience and effort by all of our employees. We all feel a sense of pride in being part of a team goal to keep our business prosperous while promoting and enacting best practices toward environmental stewardship.” LEM Products, Inc. makes custom safety hazard signs, labels, and tags for equipment manufactures and maintenance, repair, and operations suppliers.

How to Apply for 2022 Sustainable Business Awards

Any member company that wants to submit a project or activity for consideration needs to complete an application and submit it to PRINTING United Alliance between January 15, 2022 and March 15, 2022. Projects must be implemented in 2021 for recognition in 2022.

Applications will be reviewed by PRINTING United Alliance’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, Safety, Health and Personnel.

For more information, and to request to be notified when the application is available, visit: sgia.org/programs/awards-competition/sustainable-business-recognition

About the PRINTING United Alliance

PRINTING United Alliance is the most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States. Its wide array of services include government and legislative representation, and safety, and environmental sustainability guidance.

Sustainability resources include The Green Guide for Graphic Communications, a step-by-step approach to evaluating and marketing your company’s sustainability profile.


Organizations that Promote Sustainability in Printing and Packaging

To learn more about sustainability efforts within the printing and packaging industry, the resources listed below can give you a good start.

sustainability resources for printing and packaging

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP)

SGP’s vision to create a true circular economy within the print supply chain. SGP is the print industry’s catalyst to increase business opportunities among brands committed to a sustainable supply chain and grow profits by reducing resource consumption and waste.

SGP provides print buyers with transparent, measurable assurance that SGP-certified facilities will help print buyers meet and exceed sustainability goals.

To become SGP-certified, each SGP printer must commit to:

  • Reduce waste and hazardous materials
  • Conserve energy
  • Source sustainable materials
  • Lower its carbon footprint
  • Create a safer workplace
  • Conform to all relevant environmental health, safety, and labor labs
  • Adopt a third-party recertification audit every two years
  • Undergo a third-party recertification audit every two years.

For information about SGP visit: https://sgppartnership.org/

For information about SGP certification: http://sgppartnership.org/certification/

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a membership-based collaborative that believes industry can make packaging more sustainable. The SPC brings together businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to collectively broaden the understanding of packaging sustainability and develop meaningful improvements for packaging solutions.

The SPC has developed tools, applications, and services to help companies take meaningful action toward packaging sustainability.

For example, the SPC has produced a series of online courses on “The Essentials of Sustainable Packaging

Earlier this year, they published a 59-page report: “Understanding the Role of Compostable Packaging in North America.”

More info: sustainablepackaging.org/

Two Sides North America

Two Sides North America is an independent, non-profit organization that uses a straightforward, balanced approach to tell the sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides tackles relevant environmental issues head-on with factual, authoritative information that exposes myths and explains the industry’s true sustainability.

Two Sides North America Fact Sheet
Two Sides North America publishes Fact Sheets such as this one about Paper Production and Sustainable Forestry.

Member companies span the Graphic Communications and Paper-based Packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, paper-based packaging, chemicals and inks, pre-press, press, finishing, printing, publishing, envelopes and postal operations.

The goal is to gives stakeholders a solid foundation for making well-informed decisions about the use of print and paper products.

For example, Two Sides publishes fact sheets that bust myths such as:

Myth: Going Paperless Saves Forests

Fact Sheet: Paper Recovery and Recycling

Fact Sheet: Wood-Based and Alternative Fiber-Based Papers

Myth: Paper is a Wasteful Product

For more information: https://twosidesna.org/

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC)

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization working to transform the consumer goods industry by partnering with leading companies to define, develop, and deliver more sustainable products.

TSC translates the science of sustainability into quantifiable metrics and practical tools for buyers and suppliers to address sustainability issues in their supply chains.  Their product sustainability toolkits enable product buyers to:

  • Compare who leads and lags in sustainability performance
  • Identify suppliers with advanced sustainability practices
  • Reveal opportunities for market advantages
  • Reduce supplier survey fatigue
  • Identify and manage high risk suppliers

The Paper, Pulp and Forestry (PPF) Sector Working Group of the TSC investigates sustainability issues for a wide-variety of forestry products, including books, greeting cards, facial tissue, lumber, and engineered wood products. The working group includes industry experts and representatives of non-profit organizations, and academic/research institutions.

The work of the PPF Sector is being used to develop Product Sustainability Toolkits for paper-based packaging.

For more information: https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/