To address some of the ways that “going green” can affect children's book production, we spoke with Francine Colaneri, v-p of manufacturing and purchasing at Scholastic.
What are the specific issues for children's publishers in implementing a more environmentally friendly paper policy?
Our one-color chapter books, which tend to have low page counts, print on 31-lb. bulky paper. Only a certain percentage of recycled fiber can be added before it compromises the bulk of the paper (recycled fiber is weaker, shorter and thinner than virgin fiber, and does not lend itself to bulk). Bulk is critical because there are minimum bulk limitations on binding equipment.
We worked very closely with the mill, and through trial and error, developed a 31-lb. paper that contains 20% recovered fiber and retains the bulk of a higher-basis-weight paper. A key goal of our policy is minimization of resources, and in this area, we have chosen to maximize the recovered fiber content based on technical limitations and focus on the reduction of resources.
There are mills that make coated paper with 30% PCW, but Scholastic typically uses paper with 10% PCW on our four-color picture books. The decision to use 10% is a result of three factors: paper with 30% PCW has very long lead times; many mills require minimum runs; and there are typically high premiums. Quality also comes into play. The higher the PCW content, the more likelihood that you will see more of the de-inked fiber “dirt” in the sheet, which may detract from the artwork.
How does adopting a greener policy affect the cost of producing picture books?
There is definitely a cost associated with using recycled/recovered and Forest Stewardship Council—certified fiber, but Scholastic's position has always been that it's the right thing to do for the environment and for our customers—children.
Scholastic recently set a new corporate policy for using recycled paper. How's the implementation going? What are the roadblocks, if any?
Scholastic has used recycled paper for over two decades, so there really hasn't been an implementation in that area in the true sense of the word. We are, however, more challenged in the area of FSC-certified paper. There are significant capacity constraints and premiums on FSC paper, so we included all of our supply-chain partners in the planning and goal-setting process. We believe this will enable us to meet our aggressive five-year goals.
It takes significant effort, teamwork and commitment from all partners in the supply chain to really have an impact. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an example of what can be accomplished, and Scholastic is committed to continuing that process, which is evident in the ambitious goals we've sent for 2012.