After convincing the other printers that we really did want to know what it would cost to use 100 percent PCW paper, but we would also consider using the 30 percent PCW coated paper, we were able to get some quotes for comparison. We compared the original price to the that of the same job on 30 percent and 100 percent PCW. We found the cost to be a bit more than 30 percent higher for the 100 percent PCW and the price for the 30 percent PCW was slightly less than 30 percent higher. It was hard to compare, though, because even after meeting with the printers and explaining what we were trying to do, two of them quoted paper that was only 50 percent or 60 percent PCW as their most environmentally-friendly option.
We used the Environmental Defense Fund’s paper calculator to estimate the environmental savings from switching from traditional paper to 100 percent PCW uncoated paper and found we’d reduce energy consumption by 29 percent and CO2 equivalents by 49 percent. Note that most of the “environmentally friendly” papers are produced at the paper mills using renewable energy or carbon offsets, though, so it’s difficult to know how much of the environmental impacts from the calculator are associated with which part of the paper-making process, but certainly using PCW paper helps keep up the market for recycling paper.
Our dean reviewed the quotes listing quantities, prices, and percentage PCW and quickly saw that if we printed fewer copies on 100 percent PCW paper we would stay within budget. We discussed quality and felt that if we could have high-quality photographs, instead of the kind from the point-and-shoot camera, it would improve quality, too. This just means we have to plan in advance to have the university photographer present. We will also design the pages with less black, in some cases, in order to help the images look crisper.
The bottom line is that we want to “walk the walk” and to lead our alumni and other stakeholders by showing them what is possible. The 100 percent PCW paper has a different look and feel, and will help us tell the story of why we chose it.
We started with an idea that we could make a simple change, but like so many times when implementing pollution prevention practices, we found that we changed the process. We reevaluated the number of copies of publications we need, found that just a bit more planning will be necessary, and we will slightly alter the design of the publications. We found value in examining our publications and we hope that this planning process will also help the publications to be a higher-value product – not only in reduced environmental impact but in improved content as well, as we re-evaluate the intended audience.
And, of course, we’re planning for the day when most of these publications are distributed electronically.