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Sustainability as a Condition of Association Membership? Let’s Make It a Trend!

A few days ago, I blogged about the American Forest & Paper Association’s ability to blow its own horn that its member companies have made great strides in key areas of sustainability, including paper recovery, emissions reduction, use of alternative energies, and much more.

I was looking at its 2010 “Sustainability Report” again today and I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. As a condition of membership, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) members must “formally agree” to adhere to the association’s Sustainable Procurement and Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Principles.

As a condition of membership? How many trade associations do you know do that? I think that’s really cool.

What are these principles?

  1. To make environmental, health, and safety considerations priorities in operating existing facilities, as well as in the planning of new operations.
  2. To recognize, in developing and designing products to meet customer needs, the environmental, health, and safety effects of product manufacture, distribution, use, and disposal.
  3. To monitor their environmental, health, and safety performance and to report regularly on these matters to their boards of directors, as well as to confirm their adherence to these principles annually to the American Forest and Paper Association.
  4. To train employees in their environmental, health, and safety responsibilities and to promote awareness and accountability on these matters.
  5. To improve environmental, health, and safety performance through support of research and development that advances the frontiers of knowledge.
  6. To communicate with employees, customers, suppliers, the community, public officials, and shareholders to build greater understanding on environmental, health, and safety matters.
  7. To participate constructively in the development of public policies on environmental, health, and safety matters.
  8. To continue to pursue energy conservation, increased energy efficiency, greater utilization of alternatives to fossil fuels, and opportunities for cogeneration of electricity.

Wow! Can you imagine if more of our trade associations had environmental guidelines like this as a condition of membership? Think of all of the associated vertical markets allied with forestry and paper — logging, furniture manufacture (think RTA), construction materials, commercial print production, packaging. . .

If all of the industries using paper and fiber products made similar commitments, imagine the good that would do.

Why stop at industries allied with paper and fiber? Every industry has an environmental commitment to make.

Come on trade associations! Who wants to be next to step up to the plate?

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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