If you’re like me, you don’t really think about how much paper you actually use every year. It might surprise you to learn that according to the EPA, about 71 million tons of paper and paperboard are used in the United States each year. Although 63% if this paper material ended up being recycled, only about 33% of paper-making materials come from recycled paper.
One company that’s beginning to use recycled paper in their catalogs is Victoria’s Secret, which increased its use of sustainable paper (post-consumer waste and FSC-certified sources) in their catalogues from 23% in 2007 to 88% by the end of 2009. This move represents substantial progress, especially for such a large catalog distribution, and in such a short time period.
We dug a little deeper to break down this impressive 88% statistic. Because it’s impressive! According to an “Independent Assurance Report” [pdf], 88% of paper purchased for Victoria’s Secret catalogs EITHER is FSC certified, OR uses “a minimum of 10% post-consumer waste.” That’s a good step, but it still allows for buying paper made up of 90% unsustainable sources. In an industry that’s been particularly slow to respond to pressure to go green, Victoria’s Secret is making bold progress, but the job isn’t done yet.
The bigger question here is whether catalogs can even be sustainable, in business terms as well as environmental ones. With some paper companies predicting a 10-12% increase in paper prices, environmentalists are hopeful that an increased price of paper will push catalog-based companies, like Victoria’s Secret, to accelerate moving their catalog operation online — where no paper is wasted!