Don’t Forget to Fallback

This weekend marks the first Sunday in November, which means… Daylight Saving Time!

Don’t forget to turn your clocks back this Sunday, November 7, 2010. If you’re really dedicated, you can do it exactly at 2:00 AM which is when Daylight Saving Time commences. 

How could you forget though? Daylight Saving Time marks the time of year where the sunrises are earlier and more importantly, those of us with early alarm times get to gain an hour of sleep! (Of course, it also means that we get less light in the evenings, but we’re trying to stay positive here!)

Here’s to wishing everyone a great (and relaxing) weekend!

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Making the Case for Printed Books

About a week ago we received our Graphic Arts Association e-Update and a specific article caught our eye. It alerted recipients to an article printed in the Washington Post entitled “iPads and Kindles are Better For The Environment Than Books”. Written by Brain Palmer, the article glorifies e-books, essentially saying that in comparison to print, e-readers are the “greener” option. Naturally this struck a chord with the Printing Industry of America’s CEO Mike Makin and he wrote a response letter making the case for print. We’ve posted the letter in its entirety below. Please, read and more importantly, share this article with as many people as possible to further solidify the notion that Print is GOOD!

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From the Office of the President and CEO

October 8, 2010
Mr. Fred Hiatt
Editorial Page Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th St. NW Washington, DC 20071

Dear Mr. Hiatt:

This letter is in response to the 8/24/10 article “iPads and Kindles are better for the environment than books” by Mr. Brain Palmer which appeared in The Green Lantern column of The Washington Post. Unfortunately, the article did not present a full and complete representation of the comparison between printed books and e-readers and their impact on the environment. Therefore, Printing Industries of America would like to provide information on several areas of environmental impact of e-readers and books that were not included in the article and if considered, would not support Mr. Palmer’s conclusion.

The conclusions drawn by Mr. Palmer in regards to the environmental impact of e-readers and printed books are based on a limited number of attributes and fail to consider the complete life cycle of the two products. The only way to accurately compare the environmental impact of a product is to evaluate its entire lifecycle which includes raw material procurement, transportation, production process, product use, and final disposition. This article explores only some of the production aspects of each product and falls short of what would be considered an objective review of the facts.

Most concerning is the absence of a discussion about several critical aspects, specifically the issue of raw material sourcing, product use, and end of life implications. In addition, the assumptions made about ink production are not accurate. Regarding raw material sourcing, books are made primarily from paper, a completely renewable resource. North American forests are well managed and continue to increase in both land area and volume of timber grown.i E-readers, on the other hand, are made primarily from plastics derived from fossil fuels, and metals and minerals mined from the earth, which are not renewable.

The article compares the carbon footprint of producing e-readers and books, but misses one of the most critical components of any carbon footprint, the source of carbon emissions from the energy required to manufacture and use the product. A significant portion of the energy required to manufacture paper is renewable. In 2008, members of the American Forest and Paper Association derived 65% of the energy used at pulp and paper mills from renewable sources.(ii)  E-readers are manufactured primarily in Asia, where the most prevalent source of electricity is coal, a nonrenewable resource.

Paper based books require no energy to use. E-readers use batteries that must be charged with electricity on a frequent basis and the infrastructure that allows for the origination, storage, and dissemination of electronic data represented 1.5 percent of all electricity consumed in the United States in 2000.(iii) In 2009, nearly 70 percent of electricity in the United States, used both to charge e-readers and power electronic data centers, was generated from fossil fuels, which are not renewable.(iv)

The article also claims that ink production for books has a worse effect on the environment than production of e-readers. The author provides no references or meaningful support for this statement. Several lifecycle assessment studies of printed products indicate that paper represents the majority of the overall environmental impact of printed matter. Ink represents less than five percent of the overall impact of a printed product.v An article which compares the impact of e-readers and books found that the health effects of producing an e-reader (mainly due to air pollution) is 70 times that of producing a book.(vi)

Lastly, the article does not consider the end of life implications for each product. Books and e-readers have very different environmental impacts when it comes to end of life. First, paper based books can be easily recycled. As of 2008, American’s recycled 55.5 percent of all waste paper generated.vii The American Forest and Paper Association recently reported that in 2009, 63.4 percent of all waste paper available was collected for recycling.(viii)

Of the 2.76 million tons of electronic waste collected in 2008, only 13.6 percent was recovered for recycling.7 The remaining 2.38 million tons were discarded primarily in landfills, where improper management leads to releases of the heavy metals and other toxic chemicals contained in electronics, or shipped overseas. According to the Basal Action Network, 50-80 percent of electronics that are collected for “recycling” in America, are shipped overseas where they are often unsafely dismantled which includes the practice of burning the electronic devices to recover the exposed metals.ix Such practices often involve children who are exposed to the extremely toxic smoke and fumes and the residues also contaminate the air, soil, and groundwater.

Printing Industries of America continues to work with its members and the industry as a whole to foster an understanding of the environmental and economic benefits that can be achieved through the use of sustainable printing practices. Printing Industries of America is proud to be a founding organization of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (, a program designed to recognize printers that are superior environmental performers. Printing Industries of America encourages The Washington Post to continue its focus and recognition of sustainable practices while providing objective and comprehensive reviews.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact me at 412-259-1777 or

Michael Makin
President and CEO Printing Industries of America 

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i Smith, W. Brad, Miles, Patrick D. Perry, Charles H. Pugh, Scott A. Forest Resources of the United States, 2007. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-78. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington Office, 2009.
ii AF&PA, Sustainability Report, 2010.
iii U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fact Sheet on National Data Center Energy Efficiency Information Program, March 19, 2008.
iv U.S. Energy Information Administration, Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors), September 10, 2010.
v Nichols-Dobson, Phillipa. LCA applied to the Printing Industry. Pira International, September 8, 1997
vi Goleman, Daniel and Gregory Norris. How Green is My iPad? The New York Times, April 4, 2010.
vii U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States Detailed Tables and Figures for 2008. November, 2009.
viii AF&PA News Release. AF&PA announces increase in paper recovery, meets goal ahead of schedule. March 22, 2010.
ixPuckett, Jim, et al. Exporting Harm. February 25, 2002.

Are you melting yet? Your PVC isn’t…

This time of year always begs the question: Is it hot enough for you? It’s the time of year when most people start to daydream about the lower temperatures and beautiful scenery that Fall brings. For some, conscious choices are made every day to ensure this natural beauty is maintained. For others, these are things that are taken for granted.

There are many environmentally harmful products out there that will neither help our planet nor us in the long run. PVC, commonly known as vinyl, is one of those products. It is used nearly every day in many facets of daily life, but are we really aware how harmful this chemically producing plastic is?

Here are some major concerns:

PVC is not typically recycled or recyclable and it is not biodegradable. Chlorine production for PVC results in the release of more than 200,000 pounds of mercury into air, water and land each year.

In addition, various pollutants and toxic additives are used to produce PVC products.

Two of the main culprits are:

1. Dioxin
2. Phthalates

  • Dioxin is a toxic chemical that is created and released during PVC production. Since PVC is expensive and difficult to recycle, it is typically burned or buried at end of life – this releases even more dioxin (and hydrochloric acid) into the air which can contaminate water and land and even contributes to acid rain. Dioxin can also negatively affect reproductive, immune, endocrine and neurological systems.
  • Phthalates are additives used in PVC production that help soften and make it flexible for use in various applications. Over the years, phthalates have sparked concern from many due to the link between this dangerous additive and increased risk of cancer, kidney and liver damage as well as damage to reproductive health and development.

Remind me again why we use this product so much?

Not only does PVC use dangerous chemicals in production, it is also difficult to recycle (as mentioned above). Because of this, a large majority ends up in landfills where it does not easily decompose, releasing its toxic chemicals into the air for us to freely breathe in – yippee.

After everything we know about the harmful effects of PVC not only on the environment but also on ourselves, we really need to ask this question: Is PVC worth the risk? I understand for some of its uses it is the most effective option, but with all of the environmentally friendly options that are available (from binders to notebooks), why are we still using vinyl in so many aspects of our lives?

Take a stand. Go Vinyl Free.


GBB’s Green Guide for the Eco-web

With the ever rising popularity of eco-initiatives there are tons of informational sites available on the World Wide Web. However, a lot of these sites can be misleading or may contain conflicting information, at times confusing more than informing. In an effort to keep you on the right path, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite “green” resources. Check them out below, we promise you won’t be disappointed!         
Let’s face it, who hasn’t heard of the Huffington Post? For breaking news on everything eco, this site is our go-to area to stay updated on green happenings.
This blog focuses on people, places and ideas that promote positive change. With tons of informational posts on CSR, conservation and sustainable printing (just to name a few) you can stay busy for hours on this site.

Visit to see all posts on sustainable printing.
Treehugger is one of the best places to visit if you want to know what’s happening in the eco-community right now. Dedicated to being a “one-stop shop for green news, solutions and product info,” this site is definitely top notch in the eco-community.
Green America is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainability in all aspects. If you want to learn how you can take action and make a difference, this site needs to be your first stop.

Also, visit to learn about (and see if you can attend) Green America’s joint effort with Global Exchange to produce sustainable conventions. Green Books N Binders will be exhibiting at the D.C. Show, October 23-24th at Booth 429 so you don’t want to miss it!
Read Managing Editor, Peter Nowack’s blogs to stay on top of the green wave. With over 15 years experience in environmental marketing, you can trust he knows what he’s talking about. With frequent posts, Peter does a great job keeping his readers informed and knowledgeable.
Created by the PGAMA, “Print Grows Trees” is more than just a website. It’s an educational campaign filled with fun facts about how print really does help grow trees and encouraging everyone to promote the fact that print is good!

Since there are so many great sites out there, it is inevitable that we may have left some out. So if you know of a great green site we forgot, leave a comment and let us know the URL and what makes it YOUR pick.

Straight Talk: Green Stats

As another 4th of July passes and we celebrate our independence, we should also remember to celebrate the land that so many Americans fought so hard to keep. To put things in perspective are a few green stats below to remind us that even one step can make a difference! 

  •  The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
  • 84% of a typical household’s waste–including food scraps, yard waste, paper, cardboard, cans, and bottles–can be recycled.
  • Using recycled paper for one print run of the Sunday edition of the New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25 million trees a year.
  • From 1990 to 2005, the amount of MSW (municipal solid waste) going to U.S. landfills has decreased by 9 million tons and continues to decrease each year. However, U.S. goals should and do continue to address the fact that these figures can be improved. 
  • The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
  •  The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.


 *Green Stats from and

Do you know the facts?

The Millcraft Group (Cleveland, OH) created an educational website devoted to raising awareness about the benefits of print, for both the environment and business. As we all know, there are many misconceptions and falsities circulating about the effectiveness and sustainability of print and this website does a great job of communicating the facts. See some excerpts below.


Print Pays Off

Print drives higher ROI

Direct mail gives advertisers a 13-1 return (DMA)

Eight out of 10 households (79%) say they either read or scan the advertising mail sent to their homes

51% of consumers say traditional mail is their preferred method of contact (CMO Council)

Response rate for email marketing has fallen by 57% since 2004, but response rate from direct mail has risen 14% (IP)

Print is Sustainable

For every tree harvested in the U.S., three trees are planted (source AF&PA)

Paper is one of the most recycled products used in the U.S.

Total recovery rate for all paper in US was more than 63% in 2009, 340 pounds per capita.

Paper made from 30% PCW used 10% less energy to make, produces 25% less waste water and 6% less greenhouse gas emissions. Each ton conserves about 15 trees. (Environmental Defense Paper Calculator)


Find more facts and information about how Print is Good at

Fiber: Recycled vs. Virgin

There is an ongoing debate about the usage of recycled fibers as opposed to virgin fibers. More than one-third of the fibers used by the paper industry come from recycled fiber. Compared to other industries, the amount of Post Consumer Waste used in the paper production process is significant.

The content of recycled material is even greater when you take into account pre-consumer waste (paper waste that never reached consumers) and the usage of mill broke. Broke is the waste generated in the process of making paper. It is re-introduced in the process of making pulp, decreasing the need for virgin fibers. Even though recycled paper requires water and energy, the level of pollution created in the process uses one-third less water and two-thirds less air when compared to virgin fiber (EPA).

Pre-Consumer Waste, recycled broke, and Post Consumer Waste (PCW) are all used in the process of making recycled paper.

The opposite line of thought is that using virgin fibers from responsibly managed forests promotes reforestation which is a critical factor in fighting greenhouse gas effects. Major forest certification programs like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiatives) are leading forces behind responsible and environmentally managed forests.

So what does all of this mean? Using paper is good and using recycled (or paper from managed forests) is better. When printing anything, try to use paper that has some content of PCW (look for at least 10% and the higher the better!) or is FSC or SFI certified.

And whichever paper you choose to use, always remember to recycle it at the end of the lifecycle. Recycling paper uses less energy and produces much less waste than just tossing it in your trash can. In fact, each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water.

This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution1.

The impacts are clear and the first step begins with you!