Printing Firms Respond to Paper Customers Desire to Go Green

CLEVELAND (AP) - More businesses want to use environmentally friendly paper, and two Cleveland printers are among a growing number that have been certified by an international organization that sets standards for how trees should be harvested.

The demand is coming from people who are conscious of the ravages of deforestation - lost wildlife habitat, fouled streams, an increase in greenhouse gases - and don't want to be part of the problem.

Many are starting to ask for paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an organization based in Bonn, Germany.

The group's standards for taking trees are meant to protect forests and their critical role in the ecosystem while allowing logging communities and wood-dependent industries to make a living.

The St. Ives printing plant in Cuyahoga Heights and Oliver Printing in Twinsburg became certified, which means they can use a logo to designate that specific paper came from responsibly managed forests.

A third printer, Great Lakes Integrated in Cleveland, expects to become council-certified this month.

"Strategically, we're looking out and saying the customers are going to want this," said Troy Eckstine, who manages the Stewardship Council program at the St. Ives plant.

Local faucet-maker Moen Inc. recently asked St. Ives to print catalogs on Stewardship Council-certified paper.

As a supplier to the construction industry, which is becoming increasingly green, Moen wants to show it's doing its part.

"This issue of sustainability is extremely important in our marketplace," said Tom Liebhardt, director of marketing services for Moen. St. Ives' first job using the Stewardship Council logo was on a Moen promotional stuffer printed last week.

Stewardship Council paper isn't necessarily more expensive, Eckstine said.

In some cases, local printers have already been using paper that meets the council's standards, but only after getting certified can they apply the label on finished products.

Until about three years ago, certification by the Forest Stewardship Council was kind of a niche label, said Liza Murphy of the Rainforest Alliance, which provides Stewardship Council certification globally. But since then, the number of certified forests has increased.

Today, more than 900 forest management certificates have been issued covering 240 million acres worldwide. From 5 percent to 6 percent of all working forests in the United States are council-certified, Murphy said.

Most paper certified to the council's standards combines recycled paper with wood fiber. A percentage of that wood must come from forests that meet strict Stewardship Council standards, while the rest must meet a lesser standard designed to guard against the most egregious logging abuses.

Paper cannot be recycled indefinitely, Murphy said, which means a certain amount of virgin wood is necessary to make up the difference.

Many techniques are used to properly manage a forest. For example, trees should be selectively cut to preserve a variety of ages. Buffers should be left around streams and lakes to prevent erosion.