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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Commercial Printing: Sappi Paper Fosters Sustainable Forestry

I recently received a print book written by Sappi paper company (formerly Warren Sappi) entitled Taking the Guilt Out of Paper. Sappi manufactures and supplies paper to commercial printing establishments and other vendors. The print book is promotional in nature, but it makes several cogent points about paper-making and the harvesting of trees in general.

The Charge: “Go Paperless. Save a Tree.”

Sappi notes that it’s not as simple as this. Promoting sustainable forestry actually improves the health of forests and wildlife. (And, as we know, plant life absorbs carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen, so we all need the forests.) Using custom printing paper that has been certified, ensuring that responsible methods have been used in its planting and harvesting, actually helps ensure the continued existence of vibrant forests, healthy wildlife, and clean air, soil, and water.

Harvesting trees while planting far more than have been cut does result in variation in the age of growth in the forest. This is true. However, what Sappi refers to as “variation in age class within a forest” actually promotes biodiversity of both plant and animal life.

It is more a question of stewardship, of being careful about using only those commercial printing paper products that reflect such certifications as SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), and using paper products responsibly and with purpose (without waste) to help keep the eco-system thriving.

We Actually Have More Trees Now

Responsible, sustainable forest management approaches trees as a crop. The goal is to plant more while harvesting less. This has led to an abundance of trees in the United States, more now than there were 100 years ago. Since it is in the best interest of the paper products industry to ensure the longevity of the forests, the industry participates actively in protecting both the trees and the forest animals.

Sappi Commercial Printing Paper Preserves Wildlife, Too

Animals and fish depend on the trees for their food, water, and habitat. However, the animals, fish, and even the insects scatter the seeds, fertilize the soil, and disperse the pollen. So there is a mutual dependency between the animals and the trees, and for this reason the Sappi paper company promotes the health, longevity, and increase of wildlife as well as plant life.

In addition to working with wildlife groups to educate companies and individuals about conservation, Sappi considers the effects of various tree cutting techniques within a particular wildlife area. In some areas Sappi may harvest more actively, in some less.

In fact, not cutting trees in a responsible way would cause a forest to become old and one-dimensional, with all growth of the same age. This would in fact decrease the amount of land suitable for particular animals, birds, fish, and insects.

Biodiversity Is Essential

The ideal situation, according to the Sappi paper company, is biodiversity, which implies that multiple species of plant and animal life, of various ages, can coexist harmoniously. While Mother Nature often acts aggressively to manage forestland—through fires, insect infestations, plant and animal diseases, and wind damage—commercial printing paper companies that adhere to SFI and SFC guidelines simulate the gentler aspects of nature to manage the forests responsibly while providing paper fiber (and hence a product, service, and employment) to individuals and organizations.

National Geographic Speaks Out

Taking the Guilt Out of Paper Usage by the Sappi paper company includes remarks by Hans Wenger of the National Geographic Society. He notes that:

  1. Forests are “100 percent renewable.”
  2. In terms of carbon emissions, an entire year’s subscription to the National Geographic magazine is comparable to using one gallon of gas in the family car.
  3. The electronic revolution has its costs, too, particularly in terms of the energy needed to run the computers and servers (to create the documents and store them over time) and the extraction of resources to make the electronic devices (many of which, such as mercury and cadmium, cannot be recycled easily if at all).

Balance Is Key

If I had to distill the entire print book into one short message, I’d say that Sappi focuses on responsible use of resources. Both commercial printing paper and electronic media will be with us for a long time. Each has its place and cannot be totally eclipsed by the other. But in order to ensure future resources, it is important to use the resources we have purposefully, without waste, and with consideration towards sustainablity.

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