Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper Use


Books have helped to foster the development and evolution of societies, institutions, and individuals for more than a millennium. In keeping with the integrity and values associated with education, literacy, and freedom of thought, the book industry is seeking to more fully integrate the values of environmental and social stewardship. Given that paper is the primary material used in book production, this treatise is focused primarily on improvements related to paper. The U.S. book industry consumes an estimated 1 to 1.3 million tons of paper each year.(1) As with most publishing sectors, forests now provide the majority of the fiber for the paper that books are printed on-and over 90% of the paper is produced solely with “virgin” tree fiber.(2) While the paper industry has made significant improvements in efficiency, emissions, and pollution controls, the book industry’s annual consumption can still be linked to greenhouse gas emissions, significant levels of energy and water consumption, and impacts on communities and Endangered Forests. In an effort to improve the impacts associated with this level of paper-use, this treatise defines measurable goals and important action steps for all stakeholders concerned with improving the ecological and social footprint of the book industry.


I. Industry Goals

The following common goals address issues of importance which we, as concerned stakeholders, will work to advance within our sphere of influence.

Fiber in Paper

Recycled and Alternative Fiber: We will improve our industry’s ecological footprint by working to move the book industry’s collective average use of postconsumer recycled fiber from a 5% average at present to 30% average by 2011.(3) In so doing, we will increase the U.S. book industry’s use of recycled fiber by 250,000 tons and conserve 524 million pounds of greenhouse gases, 2.1 billion gallons of water, 264 million pounds of solid waste, and 4.9 million trees each year.(4) In addition, we will continue to support the collection and use of deinked preconsumer recycled fiber from materials that have been printed but were never utilized by consumers. We will also explore the efficient use of fiber and continued research concerning the feasibility and environmental benefits of additional fiber sources including agricultural residue and on-purpose crop fibers.

Endangered Forests: We will understand our sources of fiber and eliminate the use of fiber originating from forest areas which are specifically identified as High Conservation Value or Endangered Forests,(5) within regions that include but are not limited to: the Canadian Boreal Forest, the Cumberland Plateau in the Southeastern United States, designated roadless areas within U.S. National Forests, and global temperate and tropical rainforests in North America, Indonesia, Latin America, and Russia. We will support conservation planning and continued efforts to identify and protect regional ecological values including those inherent in Endangered and High Conservation Value Forests as they are credibly identified through multi-stakeholder processes using science-based criteria.

Best Practices in Forest Management: Given that there is still such a significant portion of the world’s unprotected forests that are not certified, we will support continued forest management certification that protects Endangered Forests, has integrity, maintains vital ecosystem functioning, biodiversity, and social values, and where forest operations are audited in the field and where it is verified that fibers originate only from legally harvested sources. We will preference certification systems where the concerns of indigenous and local communities are adequately factored into forestry standards, plans, and assessments. We will also strive to eliminate the use of fiber derived from the conversion of natural forests to plantations-only using plantation wood if it was in existence prior to 2006.(6) In accomplishing these objectives, results-based performance is the desired outcome.

Currently the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the most rigorous forest management standard which is widely and internationally accepted as coming close to meeting the core objectives defined in the “Endangered Forests” and “Forest Management” sections above and as such is preferred. Other certification systems such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) take steps in the right direction, including the SFI’s requirements for best management practices on water quality, certifier accreditation, and recognition of the need to effectively address biodiversity and illegal logging. At such time that these and/or other systems are identified as meeting FSC-equivalent performance standards regarding Endangered Forest protections, forest conversion, illegal logging, labeling requirements, and other key environmental and social concerns as FSC, this treatise will also acknowledge these other widely accepted certification systems as preferred.

Human Rights

We will actively support the advancement of human rights for indigenous and local communities-supporting consensus based solutions to disputes in the areas from which raw materials originate and where production takes place. We will work to ensure recognition and respect for indigenous peoples’ legal and customary rights to control their traditional lands, protect their cultural identity, and participate as primary stakeholders in land-use planning. In addition, we will support fair wages and working conditions for laborers involved in overseas book production.

Reducing Production Impacts

We will advance minimization in the use or release of: mercury, dioxins or dioxin-like substances, hazardous air pollutants, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals-including increasing the use of soy-based inks and least toxic materials and processes available (such as caustic soda produced without mercury and bleaching without the use of chlorine or its derivatives.) Additionally we will support the continued growth and development of paper and books produced with renewable energy.(7)

Recycling and Reducing Consumption

With book return rates as high as 25%, we will continue to explore and implement strategies which will foster improved efficiency and continued reductions in paper consumption. We will continue to minimize returns and ensure that returned books are recycled or re-used instead of being landfilled or incinerated.

Geographic Scope

The goals as defined above are designed to be applied on both a domestic and international basis.

II. Action Towards Reaching These Goals


In the spirit of collaboration and cooperation we, as participating stakeholders, will track progress towards meeting the objectives stated in section one. In addition, we will provide this information, to the extent the information is available, (baseline and annual data thereafter) to designated agencies or organizations that are involved with tracking industry shifts.


We understand the importance of corporate social responsibility and will make a concerted effort to improve the environmental impacts generated by our industry. Within 6 months of signing this treatise, we will develop meaningful corporate policies consistent with the goals outlined in section 1 above and to be implemented by 2011.We will encourage suppliers to test and produce papers with the highest levels of recycled, alternative, and FSC fiber possible and will seek environmental options when soliciting pricing and negotiating contracts. If existing vendors are unwilling or unable to meet our needs, we will seek out those who can. We will encourage suppliers to leverage volume and scale to reduce costs and will encourage mills to participate in regional conservation plans such as the Boreal Conservation Framework. We will evaluate the environmental performance of our suppliers and work with those companies whose performance is most consistent with our environmental goals.(8) By 2011, we will endeavor to utilize an annual average of 30% postconsumer recycled fiber for new and backlist titles. We will track increases in our use of postconsumer and preconsumer recycled, and FSC certified fiber for use in book paper as a measure of our institutional and industry progress towards meeting environmental objectives. In an effort to build awareness and educate readers, we will also identify all books which are produced on paper which meets and ideally exceeds accepted minimum environmental criteria for paper.(9)


As key stakeholders in the development and supply of book paper, we will invest our efforts and resources to proactively meet the goals and needs of the marketplace as outlined in Section 1. We will determine technical thresholds for the maximum use of recycled fiber in varying applications when encouraged to do so. We will support continued improvements in recovered paper collection. We will work to develop the necessary scale for papers to meet the economic and environmental goals of end-users. By 2011, we will utilize an annual average of 30% postconsumer recycled fiber or greater for our combined book grade papers, provided there is sufficient market demand. We will track our progress towards meeting or exceeding this objective (measured in tons and as an overall percentage of book grade total volumes). We will also track increases in our use of postconsumer and preconsumer recycled, and FSC certified fiber for use in book paper. We will also track and report results-based performance with regards to objectives stated above in the Endangered Forest and Forest Management sections. We will strive to support the goals of regional conservation plans such as the Boreal Conservation Framework. Additionally, we will work in a cooperative manner with various stakeholders in an environment of transparency through efforts to provide accurate forest origin, forest certification, and chain-of-custody information.

Printers and Merchants

We will invest our efforts and resources to proactively meet the goals and needs of the marketplace as outlined in Section 1. We will encourage mill partners to develop new book grades with strong environmental attributes. We will work to develop the necessary stocking programs and scale such that papers become increasingly available while meeting the economic and environmental goals of end-users. As printers, by 2011, we will increase our average annual utilization of postconsumer recycled fiber, measured in tons, to a 30% level or greater for total book-related production. As merchants, by 2011, we will increase the average postconsumer recycled content level to 30% or greater (measured in annual sales). We will track increases in our use of postconsumer and preconsumer recycled, and FSC certified fiber for use in book paper as a measure of our institutional and industry progress towards meeting environmental objectives. We will also provide accurate usage information for interested publishers.


We will utilize our communication channels to educate readers about the value of books that are produced with environmental sensitivity. In bookstores, at such time that there is a sufficient percentage of titles within a given product category that are readily identified as meeting minimum environmental criteria, we will consider implementing in-store awareness programs. For on-line operations under our control, we will identify all titles that are produced on paper that meets minimum environmental criteria and originate from publishers with meaningful environmental policies.


As individuals concerned with the environmental and social impacts associated with our industry, we will actively encourage publishers and others to take steps to meet the goals as outlined in section one. We will also make an effort to inform the general public about progress on this front.

Public Agencies, Organizations, and Associations

As institutions involved in or concerned about the book industry, we will inform and educate our constituency regarding the value of environmental responsibility. We will explore the issues in an in-depth manner and foster collaboration and cooperation. If involved with purchasing books, we will seek out materials produced with environmentally preferred paper and will encourage activities which will help the book industry to meet the collective goals as outlined in section one.

Content Changes

This treatise is designed to be a working and flexible document. On an annual basis, content revisions and amendments may take place. In the event this takes place, all signatories will receive notification and the opportunity to maintain or withdraw endorsement of the treatise.


Any signatory to the Treatise on Responsible Paper Use is encouraged to promote participation in this industry initiative on products or in materials as a means of promoting corporate leadership, increasing awareness, and encouraging broader momentum.

Evaluation and Reporting

Signatories to this treatise will be encouraged to report their progress towards meeting stated objectives annually. Only those signatories taking meaningful steps to accomplish the stated goals will be eligible for recognition. Benchmarks for successful progress will be determined by a multi-stakeholder advisory group.


With the knowledge that anything is possible with determination and collaboration, we, the undersigned, commit to making social and environmental responsibility a priority and will do whatever is in our power to advance meaningful and lasting transformations within the book industry.

1 Based upon average annual U.S. consumption between the years of 2001-2004 as reported in the Pulp and Paper Factbook and estimating 250,000 tons of paper consumed overseas for U.S. publishers

2 Abromovitz & Mattoon, Paper Cuts: Recovering the Paper Landscape (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute 1999

3 The 30% industry average target does not assume that all papers will be made with at least 30% recycled fiber. Rather it is an average-use rate goal for the whole industry-accounting for the fact that some papers will contain 10% recycled content and others 100% recycled content.

4 Calculated by Environmental Defense, 2004 based on the comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis conducted by the Paper Task Force. It is assumed that recycled fiber gains represent new tons of fiber added to the system as opposed to a transference of recycled fiber from one sector to another.

5 Endangered Forests are intact forests, critical restoration and remnant forests, focal conservation species’ core habitat and other forests critical to maintaining high biodiversity values. See expanded definition in Glossary attachment and the document: “Ecological Components of Endangered Forests” (ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Rainforest Action Network, 2005)

6 At such point that there are agreed upon regional and international commitments for plantations to effectively mitigate and reduce impacts on natural forests, this timeline may be removed.

7 With a preference for wind, soldar, biomass, and geothermal renewable energy sources

8 Environmental performance can be measured according to a variety of parameters, including but not limited to: average recycled content utilization rates or offerings across all paper or book grades, ISO 14001 compliance, FSC certification for forestlands or operations, efforts to map/protect endangered forests, meaningful agreements with conservation organizations, percent of profit invested in the community, etc.

9 As defined by the Green Press Initiative: Uncoated-30% pc recycled fiber/coated-10% pc recycled/all papers-the highest amount of FSC certified fiber possible

In the spirit of collaboration, we join other committed stakeholders in supporting and advancing the above-mentioned goals.

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