Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from The Green Reprographics Handbook, a book published in 2008 and distributed to IRgA members to help them focus on "green" issues. The book is six years old but the information below is still worthwhile. There are still some copies of the book available for IRgA members; if you’d like a copy, send an email to Ed Avis at firstname.lastname@example.org. A previous excerpt from this book was published a month ago -- click here to read it. One more excerpt will be published in a coming issue of IRgA Today.
Chapter 10: Using Recycled Paper
Offering recycled paper to your customers must be an essential part of your green strategy.
Recycled large-format paper has a bad reputation, because when it first came on the market two decades ago, it was inferior to virgin bond. But that has changed. technology has turned that dingy, mottled recycled paper of old into paper that is virtually indistinguishable from virgin bond. In fact, the specs for Océ 20-lb recycled engineering bond are exactly the same as 20-lb virgin engineering bond: 92 bright, 145 whiteness, 89 percent opacity, and 160 smoothness.
In short, recycled paper has grown up. This shouldn’t be a surprise – with all the focus on green issues over the past decade, paper manufacturers have been working hard to improve their processes.
The remaining “catch” with recycled-content bond is cost. It costs 10 to 15 percent more than virgin bond, and that’s an important point if you’re trying to be the low-cost provider in your market.
But that cost is worth it, because providing recycled paper – in both prints and rolls – will pay off.
Using recycled paper can help the environment. It’s hard to estimate how many trees are saved when you use recycled paper – because trees obviously come in different sizes – but studies show that on average, a ton of virgin kraft paper (that is, office-type paper, rather than newsprint, which uses less wood) consumes 24 trees. So using a ton of 30 percent recycled content paper – which is about 85 500-foot, 36-inch rolls of bond – would save about seven trees.
How many rolls do you use a year? Do the math and you’ll discover that switching to recycled, at least in part, could save a small forest.
Equally important, by using recycled paper you’re supporting the recycling industry as a whole. Every ton of paper that is recycled is a ton that doesn’t end up in a landfill somewhere. It’s an important cycle that you’re supporting.
Offering recycled paper is a competitive advantage. Some of your largest customers are probably architects and engineers, and they’re giant advocates of environmental awareness.
If your biggest customers care about the environment, it stands to reason that they’d like to use recycled paper in their prints.
Engineering Supply & Imaging in Holland, Michigan, switched to recycled bond in early 2007. The shop’s client architects specifically ask for the recycled paper – and Engineering Supply is the only shop in town offering it. It’s a competitive advantage.
Océ has been offering recycled bond for years, and is seeing the market grow, says Sal Sheikh, vice president of marketing for the Wide Format Printing Systems Division of Océ North America. As the market grows, it will likely become a larger part of Océ’s business.
National Azon is another supplier of recycled bond. National Azon President Bob Anderson says that he went big into recycled in early 2007 because he thought it would be good for the world, not necessarily good for business. But it has turned out good for business – more and more people are asking for it.
Recycled bond costs more for the time being, but that’s simply a matter of volume. It’s not that recycled paper is inherently more expensive than virgin bond. If enough blueprinters start ordering recycled paper, the volume at the converters may go up enough that they can lower prices.
Then you’ll be able to offer recycled paper to your clients for the same price as virgin bond, and guess which they’ll choose? If quality is the same, price is the same, and one helps save the world, it’s a no-brainer.
But even if you do have to charge more for recycled paper, having it available is still a competitive advantage. Many of your customers are used to paying a little more for green products, so they won’t be surprised if recycled content paper costs a little more, too.
The competitive advantage you can gain by offering recycled bond to your customers is available right now. If you’re not taking that advantage, which of your competitors will?