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Publishers Team Up in the Name of Sustainable Paper

At Chronicle Books, we love paper. What’s more, we love sustainably sourced paper. As a book publisher and purveyor of paper-based gift products, we recognize that we have a responsibility to think not only about delivering great content and beautiful design, but about the materials we use to bring those ideas to life. To that end, we choose our papers carefully. We give preference to FSC certified stocks, are always looking for ways to increase our recycled paper usage, and we avoid papers that contribute to deforestation and the destruction of valuable rainforest ecosystems.

One tool we use is our membership in PREPS, which stands for the Publisher’s database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing. PREPS was started in the U.K. in 1995 as an initial collaboration between the publishing house Egmont U.K., and Carnstone, a corporate responsibility consultancy firm. The goal was to create a process to collect forest source data and environmentally assess the papers Egmont was using. Recognizing that many other publishers had this same need and were gathering the same information, Egmont invited other publishers to join forces and use PREPS as a pre-competitive environmental paper assessment tool. Since that time, the membership has grown to 22 publishers worldwide and the database itself contains information for over 700 papers!

So what kind of information does PREPS have and why is it important to both publishers? The PREPS database collects the technical and forest source data, country of origin, and transshipment risk for hundreds of papers produced worldwide. Although not exhaustive, the information in PREPS is incredibly extensive and invaluable when it comes to buying paper, which can be a daunting process with so much to consider. By putting all of this information into an easily accessible and understandable form, PREPS helps publishers make more educated and environmentally sound paper buying decisions. In order to avoid controversial fiber, you need to first understand what’s in your paper and where it comes from. And the PREPS database allows a buyer to do just that. As someone who purchases for print and is an environmental paper geek, I unabashedly say I LOVE PREPS!

PREPS Chronicle Books

For this reason, I was thrilled to be asked to speak about PREPS from a publisher’s perspective at their first Asia Summit this past June in Shenzhen, China. My goal at the seminar was to not only spread the good word about this incredible resource, but to share how and why Chronicle uses the database when making purchasing decisions as a way to encourage printers and paper mills to establish and maintain relationships with PREPS.

Why China? Over the last decade, China has grown to become the world’s largest consumer and producer of paper, so it seemed like the right time for PREPS to host their first seminar there and meet many of the people they have been corresponding with for years. The response to the seminar invitation was phenomenal, far surpassing expectations, and there was even a waiting list for tickets! In the end 94 people attended, representing publishers, printers, mills, and NGOs like the FSC, Rainforest Action Network, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The mood in the room was positive and collaborative. Although paper sourcing in Asia has historically been a sensitive issue, I was impressed with how open people were to learning about PREPS and how to use the database. We were all there with the same question in mind: how do we, as producers of paper and paper products, work together to ensure a sustainable and more transparent supply chain? How do we work together to prevent deforestation and the loss of our world’s precious ecosystems? There was no great “a-hah!” moment where we hit upon the grand solution to deforestation. But there was a great deal of information shared and relationships formed, which I believe lays the foundation for tackling environmental issues in the years to come.

As a company whose products make use of the earth’s natural resources, we believe we have a responsibility to the generations of readers to come that we use these resources wisely, and we are delighted to be part of the conversation to make this happen. Many thanks to PREPS for bringing us all together for the Asia seminar and for the great work they do every day.

Beth Steiner

Beth Steiner

Beth Steiner is a Senior Production Manager at Chronicle Books, where she has worked for the past 15 years. In addition to individual project management, Beth heads up the Development Group and works on Chronicle's environmental initiatives with regards to manufacturing.
Beth Steiner

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