Derek Smith on Direct Mail and the Environment
About a decade ago, after spending the better part of his career as an executive in the printing and paper manufacturing industries, consultant Derek Smith turned his attention to the environmental stage. Through his work with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) among others, Smith discovered that while the North American paper companies have made great improvements, there’s still a lot of bridge-building to be done between the industry and the environmentalists. And, just as importantly, there’s a crucial part of the equation that’s missing: the end user, i.e., you.
“There are some key sectors in the supply chain, like paper merchants, printers, publishers, end users, who are simply not involved in the debate,” asserts Smith. “If we can convert those links toward positive environmental behavior, it will have a galvanizing effect on moving the U.S. paper industry to new levels.” Smith now pauses to talk about the importance of knowing the facts, taking a stand, and understanding the difference between price and cost.
TG: What are some of the key environmental issues impacting the paper industry?
DS: The single biggest issue is the forests. Certain kinds of forests, particularly old growth forests, are home to … plantlife, animals [and] people. And, as importantly, old growth trees have the ability to suck carbon dioxide out of the air, and that limits global warming. The boreal forests are the key here. They stretch from Canada through Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia and to the northern tip of Scotland. The pivotal issue is the protection of these forests. You can plant as many trees as you like, for them to be cut down; but taking on natural forests, like the rainforest or the boreal forest, is the problem.
Also of [import] are the emissions that go from [paper] mills to the air and water. Most mills in North America have reasonable controls in this area. That is not true for many countries outside the United States. Scandinavia is very good; Western Europe is very good. But the same can’t be said of the paper and pulp mills in other growing manufacturing countries. And pollution of the atmosphere—it doesn’t matter if you are in Bahir or Beijing—it affects all of us.