3 Things Our Sustainability Experts Want Marketers to Know

3 Things Our Sustainability Experts Want Marketers to Know

Sustainable Mail Group (SMG) recently brought together a knockout panel of sustainability experts to speak on how we can make better paper choices for our first virtual Paper Event symposium. This piece is the third of a three-part series designed to deliver the top takeaways and insights we gathered in a concise, highly actionable way for our community of members. You’ll find part one here and part two here.

With the need for mail marketing to differentiate, the need for Marketers to adopt sustainable paper and production choices. And, since markets follow the money, Marketers have the greatest potential to generate demand for certified products, certified producers and printers and next-generation products that will push mail into a more sustainable future.

Here’s What our Sustainability Experts Want Marketers to Know

Marketers drive demand. As the client, you have the power to influence the entire production of your mail pieces. The guidance you give your designer, and mail service providers can have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated. All you need to do is ask. What am I asking for? Minimize pressure on the process by asking for sustainable-first design thinking, request papers that meet at least one certification standard and/or have recycled fibre content, and work with certified mail service providers who share your sustainability values.
“One in four RFPs coming in now ask for some environmental information. We’ve seen questions shift from being broad to being more in-depth in our environmental initiatives…which is really great because it pushes us to be proactive and reactive to meet our goals’ – Amanda Chor, Sustainability Manager, Hemlock Printers.

Carbon neutral is good. Carbon-Rich is better. Planting trees to replace those harvested for production isn’t a one-for-one carbon exchange. Why? Nearly half of carbon in forests is held in the peat or soil of the forest floor so old forests hold considerably more carbon than newer ones. What’s the takeaway? Protecting and supporting ancient and endangered forests is as important as planting new ones.

“The UN Environment report says that forests represent 30% of the climate solution and that includes keeping existing forests standing. Keeping existing carbon-rich forests standing is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to stabilize the climate” – Andrew Tremblay, Market Development Manager, FSC

Go beyond recycled content and ask for the full energy profile of your paper. Paper is one of the most recyclable products on the planet with 66% of it being recycled in 2020. Generally, it’s easy to come by paper with recycled fibre content. What most people forget to ask about is the full energy footprint of the paper they’re working with. Paper mills consume an astounding amount of water during production, which also impacts energy consumption. Huh. What can I do to help? Request information on the energy footprint required to produce the paper you’re considering in addition to its recycled fibre content. The information might not be available but if it’s requested frequently enough, it’s more likely to be in the future.

“The mill footprint is so important when you’re choosing paper. It’s not just what’s in the paper but how that paper was manufactured. The energy profile. How much carbon is emitted. Paper mills are built on rivers for a reason. They consume huge amounts of water…if they’re wasteful with water, they could be wasting energy…It’s just something to think about.” – Dr. Laura Thompson, sustainability consultant at 4 Minutes

Like what you’re reading? Want to subscribe to this series? Become a member. It’s free!

Want to dive deeper into our Paper Event insights? Watch the event recording here.

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