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How good is Good?

Journalism intern Samantha Gee takes a look behind the scenes at how Good is living up to its eco-friendly philosophy. 

As a reader of Good magazine, it is likely that you, too, are interested in the environment and how our everyday choices affect the world around us. It’s only fitting that the team behind Good thinks about those same concerns and addresses them when producing this magazine. 

Paper products are often viewed as having a negative impact on the environment and are seen to contribute to global waste issues. But Charles Miller, chairman of the New Zealand Paper Forum, says this isn’t quite the case. In fact, “paper represents a very sustainable and environmentally friendly medium for communication”.

Miller is confident that paper is not a problem – as long as independently certified, well-managed and legally harvested sources are used. That means not felling old forests, and recycling or re-using paper waste to keep it out of landfill.

Inevitable comparisons are drawn between print products and newer digital technologies, but while it’s easy for most of us to understand how the physical print product breaks down, how many of us actually understand the tangible effects of the digital process?

A 2010 study by Philip Lawrence, Barriers and Incentives to Ecological Modernisation found that a 16-page brochure creates the same amount of CO2 emissions as watching a 30-second commercial on a plasma-TV.

While Good could exist solely on a digital platform, the magazine has always existed across both print and digital platforms. Miller says paper products are “the most portable, tactile and versatile medium for communicating” and we believe this too. Printed media is tangible, engaging and an excellent medium for communicating with our readers. Part of the pleasure of a magazine such as Good is its physical, tactile quality.

The question is – is Good magazine really is as ‘good’ as it claims to be?

CarboNZero accreditation

Good is New Zealand’s only carboNZero accredited magazine and has been since its launch on World Environment Day in June 2008. This certification means the magazine’s carbon footprint is assessed on an annual basis, it requires a plan to reduce emissions, and offsetting any remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits. In Good’s case this means investing in sustainable forestry both in New Zealand and offshore.

When a product is audited for accreditation, everything is taken into account. Data is collected from all sources, including paper stocks, printing inks, electricity consumption in the office, computers and printers, packaging and freight. This extends through to disposal and is a complete life-cycle assessment approach.

Senior environmental advisor Daniela Ramirez says carboNZero work closely with each certified company to provide a specific plan for reducing emissions and that it is important to focus on the positive opportunity for change that this presents. Likewise Good has demonstrated its commitment to reducing its impact by working with suppliers, investigating how it’s processes could become more efficient and making positive changes within the workplace.

Paper stocks and printing inks

Good magazine is printed on BJ Ball Forest Stewardship Council-approved paper, which has been independently certified to verify it comes from sustainable, well-managed and legally harvested sources. The paper in Good is an FSC-MIX source pulp, meaning that it is made up of fibre from certified forests, controlled sources and recycled wood under the strict International Standards Authority (ISO) Environmental Management System.

In addition, the paper is acid-free and bleached without the use of chlorine, which minimises the impact on the environment as it breaks down.

The inks used to print Good come from the Luxembourg-based Flint Group, a company committed to promoting sustainability in its products. The Novavit F 950 Plus Bio inks are part of a system with ingredients derived from wood resin and vegetable oils. Unlike conventional mineral-based printing inks, these inks are based on renewable materials.

As part of the carboNZero reduction plan, anything created in the production process is examined for re-use instead of being discarded. As a result, the solvents used to clean the machines in the printing process are filtered for re-use in cleaning products and the high grade aluminium plates are onsold to be repurposed for other products.

All of the paper production waste – including offcuts and packaging – is recycled.

Further initiatives

Good magazine is part of the Image Centre group – a multimedia communications company.

At Image Centre HQ, members of the sustainable values committee meet to discuss issues such as the use of resources and suppliers, recycling and waste reduction. 

There’s a focus on the concept of lean manufacturing, which was developed by Toyota during reconstruction period in Japan after World War II. In essence it’s about ‘doing more with less’, and it involves a consistent effort to reduce any waste that consumes resources without adding value.

Zephyr Brown, Image Centre Operations Manager, says there is no denying that the print industry creates waste – which is why it’s important to reduce the impact. Current strategies to minimise effects include encouraging staff to turn off appliances when not in use and replacing personal rubbish bins with paper recycling trays and communal waste points. Brown says this encourages employees to be more conscious of correctly sorting their rubbish. Another project involves putting coffee grounds from the staff coffee machines into a company worm farm. 

In a recent initiative, Project Brightspark, the Image Centre replaced all 480 light fittings at its headquarters with environmentally friendly LED’s. The new lamps emit less heat and have a longer life than conventional light sources. Although the cost to switch to green technology was high, the long-term return on investment will cut the monthly power bill by around 20 percent. With a saving of approximately 300,000 kilowatt hours per year, this equates to a 49 ton of carbon which makes a big change to the company’s overall footprint.

So it seems that readers can be confident that Good magazine really does live up to its name. The team are committed to managing and reducing the magazine’s carbon footprint and continue to make active choices to ensure that this happens.

While many decisions occur at the production end, a few important ones occur in the reader’s hands. Before making the decision to recycle, think about passing your copy onto someone else who could do with a good read.

Definitions

carboNZero – Internationally recognised, New Zealand-based greenhouse gas certification scheme. Products with this certification have measured, reduced and offset their emissions. Certification provides assurance that organisations and products carrying this mark are committed to making genuine improvements in environmental sustainability.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – An organisation that promotes sustainable forestry practices worldwide. It sets strict standards for forest products and independently certifies when those standards have been met. Certification enables consumers to choose products that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable.

International Standards Organisation (ISO) – Provides specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make the industry more efficient and effective. The ISO 14000 standards are focused on environmental management and provide tools to mitigate environmental impacts.

New Zealand Paper Forum – The voice of the paper industry, it has a set of objectives which aim to provide a vehicle for discussion and emphasise the positives of print and paper. 

Carbon Footprint – Total measure of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels. In terms of a product, it is a measure of the total CO2 emissions generated in the everyday operations of the business and includes the life-cycle CO2 emissions for the supply chain and all materials used.

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