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Greening Print Marketing: How Much Is Brightness Worth?

The Stock Exchange (photographer ilco)Earlier this week, I talked about printing with recycled paper and how the decision on which stock to select goes beyond merely “recycled” to include other factors, including the percentage of postconsumer waste content and whether or not the paper is elemental chlorine-free.

Printing with recycled paper ought to be a no-brainer. Not only do you save trees, but according to Friends of the Earth, the production process used to create recycled paper uses up to 70% less energy than for virgin pulp. It also requires fewer chemicals.

Some marketers sniff at recycled paper, however, because it’s not quite as bright as virgin stock. Yet, one could make the argument that the positive social image associated with recycling can easily offset any loss in brightness—if that was ever really important at all.

More Reasons to Use Recycled

If the points above aren’t enough to overcome the “brightness” appeal, here are just a few more reasons to favored recycled stock. This list is compliments of Barefoot Press of Raleigh, NC.

  • Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group, calculates that one ton of virgin uncoated paper (which accounts for 90% of paper used in the U.S.) consumes three tons of wood, more than 19,075 gallons of water, and generates 2,278 pounds of solid waste.
  • U.S. pulp mills consume 12,430 square miles of forests around the world each year, an area almost the size of the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.
  • Globally, according to the Environmental Paper Network, 70% of trees used for paper pulp comes from biodiverse forests as opposed to tree farms, much of it from endangered forests.
  • Illegal logging has destroyed or degraded 80% of the world’s ancient forests. These forests create oxygen and hold massive amounts of carbon dioxide in the plant life. When the forest is cleared, that carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Scientists estimate that preserving the world’s forests and managing land use sustainably would reduce CO2 emissions by one-quarter. Deforestation accounts for about 30% of the global warming pollution released into the atmosphere each year. (
  • Irresponsible logging undermines the culture and economy of millions of indigenous and rural people who depend on forests for their livelihood. It also leads to erosion, flooding, and water pollution, and creates conditions that erupt in violence and human rights abuses. (

How important does that “super whiteness” look now?

Related Posts:

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Your Way to Lower Overhead

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Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.


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