Catalogue companies in US failing to use recycled paper

US Catalogue companies are choosing virgin paper over recycled, with catalogues using images of nature to sell their products among the worst offenders, according to a new study by an environmental campaign group.


In 2001, 17 billion catalogues were mailed to consumers in the US, an average of 59 for every man, woman and child, says Environmental Defense. If the industry was to change its ways and use just 10% recycled paper, the amount of wood saved would be enough to stretch a six-foot fence across the US seven times, says the organisation.

Seventy-four catalogues were examined, of which only six – Disney, Omaha Steaks and four from Norm Thompson Outfitters – reported using recycled paper throughout the body of their catalogues. The catalogue with the largest proportion of recycled paper was the Early Winters catalogue from Norm Thompson, with 20% recycled paper for the body, 60% for the cover, and 30% for its order forms.

The organisation is particularly critical of companies that use images of nature to sell their products, but still use virgin pulp. “Shoppers might be surprised to learn that their favourite catalogues are not printed on recycled paper,” said Environmental Defense Project Manager Victoria Mills.

According to the organisation, there is no excuse for the industry’s behaviour. Recycled paper is widely available, competitively priced, and offers comparable performance, says the report.

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