Tuesday, April 1, 2008

MPA Retail Conference and Time Inc's Green Thinking.

BoSacks Speaks Out: Here is some news and thoughts about green publishing, paper consumption, and the consumer reaction. It is a worthwhile read and I have inserted a question to ponder at the end.

Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him.
Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

From the MPA Retail Conference Bill Mickey reported the following about Time Inc's thinking green.

Time Inc. has been monitoring its environmental impact to such a degree that it employs David Refkin as director of sustainable development. "Part of my job is risk management and promoting positive change and turning it into a business opportunity," he says, adding that the publisher buys 500,000 tons of paper from 53 mills per year.

As part of an operation-wide sustainability effort, Refkin says that the company has boosted its certified sustainable forestry paper content. Currently, 70 percent of its fiber meets CSF standards, up 25 percent from 2002. And paper is going increasingly global. "More and more of our wood will be coming from different countries," he says, noting that it's becoming important to work with countries to make sure they're following responsible foresting practices.

Bill Mickey also reported on the green thing that:

Consumer values--again, the intangibles--are increasingly including an awareness of a product's impact on the environment. In a panel discussion called "Consumers, Retail and the Environment," Steve French, managing partner of The Natural Marketing Institute, noted that "consumers are becoming much more eco-conscious. There's an alignment of personal values with companies and brands." And that, according to his research, one-third of Americans are willing to pay 20 percent more for environmentally-friendly products.

French pointed out that consumers are becoming more aware of, and interested in, the magazine production process, and warned publishers not to be surprised if consumers hold them "responsible" for ensuring unsold magazines are actually recycled. Indeed, Dave Sherman, partner at Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting, noted that despite the efforts of publishers to convert to recycled paper content, pushing unsold copies around the system essentially cancels that out.

I couldn't agree more. Although in my newsletter there has been some dispute of the actual percentages of unsold copies ending up in recycling centers, there is no dispute that on average we print 10 and sell 3. If we fix that part of the equation, then we don't have to worry as much about the recycling percentages. The eventual goal has to be no returns. It will take some time to get there, but there are at least some initiatives under way to bring us into at least thinking about those greater efficiencies.

Here is a legitimate question for my old friend David Refkin, out of the 500,000 tons of paper he buys each year, how much of that paper gets into the hands of the consumer?

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