PPA estimates magazine industry's carbon footprint

The preliminary figure was announced at the PPA’s first carbon summit at its magazine and business media conference.

PPA environment committee chair and managing director of BBC magazines, Peter Phippen, said the figure is the first in the world to have been calculated for a counry’s magazine industry.

It takes into account the paper type and source, printing methods, distribution and what happens to the magazine after it is bought – for example, if it goes into a landfill or is recycled.

Michael Sturges, environment director at packaging, paper and printing supply chains management consultancy, Edge, announced the results, but stressed that it was still work in progress. He said: ‘Although they are only preliminary results, we can have early insight into what it looks like and what it means for future strategies.’

Impact assessment

The preliminary results, which the PPA will have externally verified, will be used to see which aspect of the industry has the biggest impact on the environment and what changes need to be made. At present, 70-80 per cent of the industry’s carbon footprint comes from the paper, 13-25 per cent in the printing and 6-8 per cent in the supply.

Sturges said that the next step will be to use the data to look at the ‘what ifs”, such as how the figure might be reduced if consumers were encouraged to recycle more. There is also the question of whether it is possible to develop a model that will be able to calculate the carbon footprint for individual publications.

Hugh Jones of the Carbon Trust said that a carbon footprint is not an ‘end in itself”. He said: ‘It isn’t even the basis for making any decisions. It is one factor in making properly informed decisions. But that in itself is a whole world away from five years ago when nobody would even think about the supply chain and carbon footprint.”

The number of articles in the press covering climate change issues has risen by 170 per cent since 2005, and by 85 per cent since 2006.

Jones said there was some concern that in a time of economic downturn, it may go down in the list of priorities for companies.

‘But it isn’t a time to take one’s eye off the ball. Consumers and goods chain companies will remember those who did,’he warned.

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