Environment Picture

Quality, ecology are goals of new-look newsletter

100% post-consumer paper, soy ink are key features
Welcome to your new and improved Michigan Environmental Report!

This issue marks a new beginning for the Report, which brings you the highlights of issues affecting the health, beauty and economic vitality of our incredible Great Lakes State and the efforts of MEC and its 70-plus member groups to enhance those attributes.

 It looks and feels better, with the upgrade to 70-pound paper and four-color process. It reads better, we hope, with more attention to accessible writing and the use of photography, and—perhaps most importantly—it’s better for the environment.

We solicited bids from numerous printers, asking for the maximum post-consumer recycled paper content they could provide. Several vendors didn’t get it or didn’t want to. They simply quoted the job on paper with 30% recycled content, which by now is a fairly standard type of paper. When asked about using 100% post-consumer paper (see sidebar for the difference between “recycled” and “post-consumer”), two of the vendors were not interested.

Millbrook Printing in Grand Ledge not only beat the bushes for the right paper, but gave us prices competitive with the others’ less-environmentally-friendly paper.

 So the result is a 100% post-consumer content MER. The paper you’re now holding was in someone’s recycling bin months earlier! It’s not as perfect as virgin paper. Look closely at the white areas, and you’ll likely see an occasional contaminant speck that didn’t get removed during the remanufacturing process. But who’s looking that closely anyway?!

Millbrook isn’t getting rich off our modest little press run. In fact, President Larry Winkler says it’s the first request for 100% post-consumer paper he can recall in a decade or more. But it might be catching on.

Two MEC member groups have already asked Millbrook to quote them jobs on the same paper, and Winkler says he’s thrilled to use the MER as a showpiece.

 “I’m loving this, because something like this has intrinsic value. Initially, years ago, recycled paper was a disaster,” he noted. The low quality fouled presses and didn’t hold ink well, resulting in poor-quality reproduction. But modern advances in both press technology and the quality of post-consumer recycled stock have helped solve many of those problems.

 Word seems to be filtering out: A Michigan Audubon Society chapter and the League of Michigan Bicyclists have asked Millbrook for quotes on the enviro-friendly paper. That doesn’t mean they’ll use it—it is still more expensive than other types of stock—but it’s an encouraging sign, said Winkler.

Prices will drop, say industry experts, as demand increases:
“As with many products, economies of scale will help reduce the costs of recycled papers,” said Sandra Rothenberg, an associate professor of management at the Rochester Institute of Technology in a 2006 American Printer article. “The higher price is due partly to the fact that many recycled papers are being produced on smaller paper machines, which are more expensive to run. The more recycled paper that is purchased…the more likely that prices will drop.”

The new MER is also printed using soy-based inks, an eco-friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based ink. “That’s important too,” said Winkler. “The less we have to rely on oil, the better off we are.”

Millbrook also is a member of the state’s Great Printers Project, an affiliation MEC required in its bid process. Great Printers members follow guidelines that reduce waste and toxic byproducts from their production processes and pursue at least three pollution prevention goals annually.

The new MER is a work in progress. As 2007 moves forward, we expect to provide shorter, more concise articles broken into manageable segments with language that regular people—not just environmental policy geeks—can understand.

We’re also looking for more short contributions from member groups updating the environmental community on their activities and upcoming events. Photographs, preferably high-resolution photos, are a plus.

We’ll be publishing four times a year, instead of six, to give us time to better plan each edition and to relieve staff from the continuous treadmill of production cycles.

The newsletter will continue to be sent to donors, member groups, township supervisors, village presidents, mayors and members of the Michigan Legislature—those whose decisions have a direct impact on critical issues like land use, water protection and public health.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail hughmec@voyager.net. And, oh yeah, please recycle this when you’re through!
-Hugh McDiarmid Jr., Michigan Environmental Council
© Copyright Michigan Environmental Council, All rights reserved