Certified Papers: Taking Advantage of Business Opportunities
Are you familiar with certified papers? If not, then it is high
time because these papers do not just protect the environment, they
also offer print shops lucrative business opportunities. Erich
Clef-Prahm, responsible for corporate communication at Papier
Union, the first German paper distributer to be certified in 2004,
explains this in more detail.
Mr. Clef-Prahm, what exactly are certified papers?
Clef-Prahm: The wood that is used to manufacture the
papers stems from forests farmed in a sustainable and socially
acceptable manner. So, for example, they come from forests that are
reforested. The intention is to put a stop to illegal felling, such
as in nature reserves, as well as stop the worldwide decline of
natural forest habitats that are ecologically very valuable.
And how does this work?
Clef-Prahm: Within the framework of certification, each
individual link in the production and distribution chain is
examined and certified according to the sustainability criteria.
This so-called Chain of Custody starts at the forests and extends
to the saw mill, pulp and paper mill, up to the paper dealer and
the print shop. Each one is responsible for making sure that across
the entire production flow the sustainability criteria are indeed
met and documented. In this way, there is complete and
uninterrupted transparency from the tree to the paper machine to
the finished print product. Thus, only print products manufactured
exclusively from certified paper may carry a certification logo.
For print shops, this means that they can't "mix in" any
uncertified paper in case of shortages, if, for example, a print
order increases its run size.
Do certified papers differ from others in processing?
Clef-Prahm: No. The certificate has nothing to do with
the quality, suitability or print characteristics of a paper. The
same types of paper can be on the market both uncertified as well
Why is certification worthwhile for print shops?
Clef-Prahm: Certification is valuable because of the
increasing demand, particularly from large companies such as
Deutsche Bank and the publishing group Random House. They are
increasingly proactive when it comes to the environment, in part
because of pressure from the public. They want to project this
dedication outwards to improve their image through business reports
or brochures, for example. These companies therefore place a lot of
importance on having print products that carry the certification
logo. As I said, however, the commissioned print shop needs to be
certified. Otherwise the certification logo may not be used. This
factor is often overlooked.
And how exactly can I profit as a print shop?
Clef-Prahm: For example, by positioning yourself as a
business which is actively dedicated to protecting the environment.
In addition, the certification is not yet very widespread. In
Germany, for example, there are currently only around 100 certified
print shops. This of course opens up the possibility of
intentionally employing the certification in marketing to
distinguish oneself from the competition. One print shop I know won
new customers by printing a book of samples exclusively with
certified papers. They sent this book to businesses that value
environmental protection. Either they knew the business or found
out about environmental priorities through research on the
Internet. Here, even small print shops have the chance to do
business with large companies, especially when they address
advertising agencies that have never dealt with certified papers or
have done so only tentatively.
What do I have to do to gain certification?
Clef-Prahm: You have to invest a certain amount of time
and money in training. In addition, business processes have to be
adjusted as well as documented precisely. This is because the flow
of the paper through the operation has to be traceable at all
Which organization certifies print shops?
Clef-Prahm: Organizations authorized by the Forest
Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of
Forest Certification (PEFC) certify print shops. These include
TÜV-Nord or GFA in Hamburg, Germany. Both organizations
operate worldwide and vary only slightly. The paper selection with
PEFC certification is much larger than that with FSC certification
because more forests are currently PEFC-certified.
Which system do you recommend?
Clef-Prahm: It is best to be certified with both systems,
the FSC and PEFC. Otherwise, there's the danger that a customer
wants certified paper from the other system. Another reason is
costs. Since the beginning of this year, certification by both is
offered as a package. This costs less than two individual
certifications and saves you time.
Thank you for speaking to us!