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Green Paper Mills See Sales Boost

MONTRÉAL, Feb. 18, 2008 -- A new report released by Markets Initiative, an environmental publishing organization, shows a dramatic increase in recycled paper sales in 2007, despite difficult economic conditions for Canada's paper mills.

Although many paper producers faced record losses and mill closures in 2007, green paper mills fared well with increased sales and market access. One mill, Cascades Fine Paper, saw a 235 percent jump in the sales of their 100 percent recycled paper. Sales for Domtar Inc's FSC paper doubled from 2006 to 2007.

More than 520 Canadian book publishers, magazines, newspapers and printers now have Ancient Forest Friendly or eco-paper purchasing policies in place, up from 172 publishers, printers and magazines at the beginning of 2007. The change represents a 300 percent increase. Meeting this increased market, seventeen additional eco-papers were available to publishers in 2007.

Ancient Forest Friendly is a Markets Initiative program that encourages Canadian publishing companies to use recycled paper or paper from sustainable growing operations.

Market Initiatives also found these environmental initiatives -- including printing publications on recycled paper -- are greatly supported by Canadian consumers. Ninety-five percent of Canadians say an environmental policy and progress toward meeting its targets are important benchmarks of a publishing company's environmental integrity.

"The only bright light for the paper industry this past year has been a green light," said Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Markets Initiative. "The forestry and paper industries are often deemed to lack innovation, but with green product demand rising as it is, there are a number of Canadian mills already benefiting from environmental innovation. This is good news for the climate and Canada's Boreal Forest."

She added while environmental leadership has been strong companies must make concrete environmental actions to gain consumer trust.

Despite the good news for the green paper industry, the report cautioned that the publishing industry contains a large amount of green washing that consumers should look out for.

The report found 78 percent of Canadians believe companies are marketing themselves to be greener than they really are in practice. The report noted recent examples of companies overstating their environmental actions, including U.S. magazines that have run "green" issues on 100 percent virgin paper, including Vanity Fair and Elle U.S., while Nippon Paper Group and Oji Paper Co., Japan's largest paper producers, have been caught in a green marketing scandal.

In January of 2008 Nippon Paper Group admitted it had falsified a claim about the quantity of recovered fiber in a number of its paper products. Oji Paper admitted to claiming that the amount of recycled paper in its copy and printing paper was 50 percent, when in fact it was between 5 to 10 percent.

The report suggested that publishers building green brands not to underestimate the ramifications of greenwashing to an increasingly informed and savvy consumer base.

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