Environmental Stewardship in Printed Communications

One of the primary missions of the office of university relations is to produce printed materials in support of the fundraising, alumni relations, and recruiting goals of the University of Arkansas. Paper is an integral component of this mission, and the impact that paper production and its use has on the environment, local communities and human health is significant. Paper is one of the major expenses of the publishing industry, and must therefore be sourced and managed in an economically and environmentally responsible way.

The purpose of this stewardship policy is to lay out the objectives and goals of university relations with regard to the use of environmentally responsible paper and sustainable production practices, and to define measures to ensure minimal environmental impact. The department of visual and creative services, a unit within university relations, is responsible for ensuring the application of this policy in all printed materials developed at the university.

The success of this policy rests on the ability to continually evaluate goals and strategies, and to communicate a desire for environmentally responsible paper and sustainable production processes to the supply chain.

It also is crucial to work cooperatively with the supply chain, including organizations such as The Magazine PAPER Project and other publications using good paper in order to drive innovation and development of additional environmentally preferable papers and sustainable production processes.

Part of the over-arching plan is to attain a standard in which paper use by university relations has minimal environmental or social impact, and whose production will ultimately be a part of a remediation process. Success in this effort depends in part on an ability to engage the supply chain as partners in this effort. Without their support and cooperation, any campaign for environmentally responsible paper use and production will be significantly more challenging. Therefore, university relations pledges to use purchasing decisions as a catalyst to stimulate environmentally responsible paper production.

There are limits imposed by the current paper and pulp market with regards to the availability, quality and cost of environmentally responsible paper. While understanding that there are market factors that cannot be completely controlled, a commitment will be made continually to use the best possible paper and work to maximize the sustainability of paper and production processes in the following ways:

  1. Using fiber economically and efficiently;
  2. Using environmentally responsible paper;
  3. Using clean production processes;
  4. Communicating/marketing goals and achievements;
  5. Working with allies to foster change in the magazine industry.

1. Using fiber economically and efficiently

University relations aims to use fiber economically and efficiently through source reduction. Less pressure is placed on forests because less fiber is used. In addition, using less fiber is more cost effective, resulting in a reduction of freight transportation and distribution costs. University Relations will work with its paper supplier to increase its fiber efficiency by researching and incorporating some, if not all, of the following changes:

  • Using a lighter basis weight;
  • Reducing trim size;
  • Responsibly managing and reducing office paper use.

2. Using environmentally responsible paper

University relations seeks to maximize the use of post-consumer fiber and total recycled content in paper purchases by encouraging suppliers to increase recycling capabilities and content in their products.

A preference exists for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified virgin fiber. FSC-certified fiber will be used whenever possible, and harvesting processes that meet FSC standards will be promoted through communications with the supply chain.31

Agricultural residues can be a viable alternative to tree fiber, and a commitment has been made to encourage development and exploration of this option for publications when it becomes feasible.

3. Using clean production processes

University relations recognizes that clean and efficient production can significantly decrease the negative environmental impacts and threats to human health. Therefore, a commitment has been made to research and, when possible, implement ways to address the following issues:

Chlorine. Chlorine compounds are commonly used to whiten/bleach paper, but they combine with organic molecules to form dioxin, a known human carcinogen. When dioxin enters the environment, it contaminates the soil, water and food supply. There are alternatives to chlorine bleaching that are available, such as hydrogen peroxide and UV. Processes that whiten paper without any chlorine compounds, such as processed chlorine free (PCF) and totally chlorine free (TCF), will be used whenver possible. 

Coatings. Uncoated paper is the most environmentally responsible choice. Coated paper can involve volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and uses a great deal of energy. If uncoated paper is not a viable option, sealing coated paper should still be avoided in favor of a coated paper that is VOC-free, whenever possible.

Inks. Standard petroleum based inks are harmful to the environment and human health. Printing with inks that contain a percentage of environmentally friendly material, such as soybean and vegetable oil, is a viable alternative to the traditional inks. Products containing as large of a percentage of agri-based ink as possible are preferred for use.

Volatile organic compound recovery. If/when agricultural based inks are not available, printing facilities can reduce emissions through "control and capture" technology. This information will be discussed with any printer used to determine its viability.32

Recyclability. The use of adhesive labels, hot-melt glues (such as those used in perfect bindings) and UV coating on publications is discouraged. All of these elements reduce the amount of recyclable fiber that can be obtained from a publication.

4. Communicating/marketing goals and achievements

University relations recognizes the benefit of promoting environmental awareness with clients and various publics, including target audiences, advertisers and the magazine industry. Therefore this environmental commitment will be publicly promoted by:

  • Displaying post-consumer content/total recycled content on all publications;
  • Using the FSC-certified logo when appropriate;
  • Displaying the university’s commitment to the environment on various Web sites as appropriate;
  • Occasionally running ads that promote recycled paper and sustainable production processes, and how university relations is committed to preserving forest ecosystems;
  • Educating clients and providing sustainable or paper-use reduction alternatives, with the goal of guiding clients toward designing projects with maximum paper savings in mind in a way that still communicates the intended message of the publication;
  • Providing copy of this policy to vendors to build awareness of the commitment toward improved printing practices and paper selection.

5. Working with allies to foster change in the magazine industry

University relations will continue to work with the Magazine PAPER Project and other publications using good paper in order to drive innovation and development of additional environmentally responsible papers and sustainable production processes.