UPMCommunication Papers
Story | 08/05/2020 12:32:51 | 3 min Read time

How to tackle climate change in the publishing industry

Greater consumer awareness and a desire to address climate change are motivating the publishing industry to become more sustainable. Stefanie Eichiner, Sustainability Manager at UPM Communication Papers, discusses the origins of the increased focus on the environment and explains how print-based publishers can lessen their climate impact.

This article is an extract from the FIPP Insider Podcast episode on publishing and climate change. To read more about how the publishing industry is acting to mitigate climate change, download the Publishing and Climate Change report produced in collaboration with FIPP.


The Publishing and Climate Change report mentions a spike in calls for sustainable business practices within publishing. Why do you think this is?

“I have noticed in my daily conversations with our customers that the Fridays for Future demonstrations have put a face on climate change. Before the youth protests, the debate was very scientific and felt detached from everyday life for many people,” Eichiner explains.

“Nowadays, we also have heavy rainfalls, storms, and droughts. These are no longer theoretical risks, but an everyday experience. On the other hand, science, technology, and social entrepreneurs have shown us ways to act through innovations and changes in behaviour. Seeing a risk and being able to respond in a meaningful way gives hope. This applies to the publishing sector as much as to the society at large.”

What sort of changes can print-based publishers make to become more sustainable?

“From our experience as a sustainable paper producer, there are two levels of activity, which work best for achieving results. First, businesses need to be set up in a way that they can measure and respond to their environmental impacts. Only after this, concrete actions – the second level of activity – can follow,” Eichiner says.

“An environmental management system can help assess the status quo and set meaningful targets. At UPM Communication Papers, we have decades of good experience with ISO 14001 and the European Eco-Management Scheme EMAS. These both have continuous improvement built in. For setting climate-specific targets, a publisher can use the guidance offered by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and by the UN Global Compact industry initiative. We use these both for our target setting and making decisions on suitable actions.”


“When I know my impact, and when I know where I want to go, I can start with actions that really have an impact.”


Eichiner explains that for most publishers, the concrete climate actions will likely address energy sourcing and efficient energy use, renewable materials, and improved recyclability. For example, a publisher can focus on the following:

  • For reducing the carbon footprint of its energy consumption, a publisher can purchase renewable energy or even produce it on site.
  • Process innovations and investments in energy-saving technology also reduce the carbon footprint. For example, publishers can use energy-efficient printers, smart lighting and heating systems, or make changes in transport and travel behaviour.
  • When it comes to materials, reducing carbon footprint means making choices that substitute goods produced with fossil resources by goods made from renewable resources. The full recyclability of both paper and inks used in production is important.
  • Most importantly, mitigating climate change should be a common ambition for everyone in the supply chain. Publishers' suppliers also need to demonstrate investments in the reduction of carbon emissions through choice of energy and investments in efficiency in order to make a contribution.

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