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Canadian firm building a greener book

Books are made of paper. Paper comes from trees. So how can a major book publishing company become environmentally friendly?

Books are made of paper. Paper comes from trees. So how can a major book publishing company become environmentally friendly?

Scholastic Canada is one of this country’s largest publishers — and distributors — of children’s books and educational materials. The company has recently undertaken a broad range of eco-friendly initiatives, covering everything from the paper they use to the trucks that deliver their products.

“Books are not disposable or consumable products, used once and then thrown in the trash,” says Wendy Graham, Scholastic’s vice-president of education. “They are treasured, kept, shared, read and re-read, in homes, schools and libraries. Books, especially children’s books, are very much re-used, and are also recyclable when they are worn out.”

Adhering closely to guidelines from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Scholastic has set some ambitious environmental standards. FSC paper is used whenever possible, and use of recycled materials is being pushed to the practical maximum.

“In whatever form we are producing books, we need to make sure that they are environmentally responsible and affordable for the masses,” Graham says.

That’s important, because newer publishing formats — e-books and other digital platforms — can also pose significant environmental problems.

“We need to realize that dedicated e-readers and the other small electronic devices on which digital books are read are created made from non-renewable resources: plastics, rare earths and other metals,” notes Graham. “They are not easily recyclable when shiny new models come along.”

The commitment to eco-friendly paper goes all the way to the copying machines in Scholastic’s offices.

Biodegradable plastic is used in packaging, and all delivery companies — large and small — have to be running clean, fuel-efficient vehicles. All this is necessary, Graham concludes, because books will continue to be an essential, hugely important part of education and the preservation of human knowledge — far into the future.

“Printed books are a technology that will be with us for some time.”

“The concrete, physical experience of a book remains important for young readers. Its tactile, visual and linear nature is perfectly suited to quiet sharing and learning, and the development of early literacy skills.”

For more info, check out scholastic.ca.

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