The Paperchase continues…

As I was preparing for this project, I went and purchased some paper to get me started. I knew I’d have a fair bit of sketching up, brainstorming and printing to do, and I wanted something which was a bit “rough and ready” in its feel, like scrapbook paper. I found some stuff called “bulky news”, only to discover that it was not recycled, nor locally produced. You can read that sorry tale here.

So in an effort to pull my socks up, I invited some friendly sales reps from a few paper companies to come visit me in my office in the exhibition, to educate me about better paper practices.

visit from Nina the paper sales rep

Here’s Nina from Doggett Paper, chatting with Pat (my colleague from Big Fag Press) and I.

Nina took the time to talk us through a bunch of options. I tell you folks, it aint easy being a paper rep in this day and age!

There are SO MANY options and variables to consider.

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What percentage of the paper is recycled content? Is it pre- or post-consumer waste recycled? What kind of forestry accreditation do the paper mills have (for unrecycled content)? What bleaching practices are used (there are several different accreditations here too)? Has the paper travelled a million miles or is locally produced? Has it been “carbon-offset” by the manufacturer or wholesaler (and is it offset from “cradle to grave” or just “to the mill door”).

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…not to mention whether or not you believe carbon-offsetting is actually worthwhile, or just a great greenwash scam.

Oh, and how much it costs, that is of course a major factor!

Phew. When I get all my facts and figures lined up, I might try to do a “Complete Idiots Guide to Buying Paper and Not Going Mad”.

Nina said that recycled paper stocks account for about 30 percent of Doggett’s business at the moment, but the proportion is rising very quickly each year. “Sustainable” as a label on paper – especially in books – is good business…

Also helping in my rudimentary education was the very well-informed Matthew from CPI paper:

Matthew from CPI and Lucas in the Audit room

Matthew told me that there is only one mill in Australia that produces recycled paper. It’s called the Shoalhaven Paper Mill, and it’s near Nowra, a few hours drive south of Sydney. They supply to various paper manufacturers.

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I’m going to try and visit them, to see for myself what is involved in the magical process of industrial paper making. (If anyone would like to come along, let me know, we could go on “an excursion” together!)

Both reps gave me their extensive swatchbooks, and Nina kindly sent along some samples of their “Envirocare 100% Recycled” (admittedly, still made in Austria) which approximates, but is in fact a lot nicer than, my unreconstructed “bulky news”.

Incidentally, in addition to agreeing with Nina that sustainable manufacturing of paper makes good business sense, Matthew said that CPI has already, for many years, been re-tooling its financial operations to get ready for a price on carbon. The process of offsetting (they have some forest-planting projects in India) means that their own carbon emissions are already taken into account in their bottom-line. They will welcome a top-down carbon tax or trading scheme, when the government finally brings one in…

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In related developments, I’ve contacted EcoDesign-EcoPrint, a friendly small business in Wolli Creek, to see if I can tour their workshop and get some tips on how to improve the printing operations of Big Fag Press. Lately we have become hyperconscious of the need to improve the way we do things, especially with regard to waste/contaminated water management. And we just had a new low-wattage LED lighting system installed… Stay tuned!

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