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Sustainability: consumers demanding more

The paper and print industry must become more sustainable.

By Sarah Lesting

Sustainability: consumers demanding more

Post pandemic, the publishers with long-term, credible, and ambitious strategies will be the survivors in an industry which has already long fought the battle against digitalisation. The fight against climate change will, without shadow of a doubt, be even tougher.

Consumer habits are changing. Environmental concerns are increasingly influencing the way we eat, live, and travel. It is predicted that 13 million people in the UK will be meat free by the end of 2021 and that by 2025, vegans and vegetarians will make up 25% of the British population (The Vegan Society, 2021). Unsustainable brands are rapidly losing customers with 28% of us avoiding certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns (Deloitte, 2020). Recently, a report showed that 90% of UK manufacturing companies surveyed were aware of the 2050 net-zero target and nearly half were already committed to following through with concrete actions (Make UK).

Seemingly, marketing messages aimed at changing consumer behaviour have appeared overnight. And every day, another brand, another industry is challenged to implement responsible production. Love Paper is a global consumer-focused campaign launched in 2012 to improve perceptions and raise awareness of the sustainability and attractiveness of paper, print and paper-based packaging. Initially focusing on statistics of forestry growth, and more recently on recyclability and energy statistics, the campaign does well to boost our industry’s reputation. The starting position is hopeful; paper has been successfully recycled for decades. Thanks to improving professional processes, reusability of fibre is increasing with more and more recycling cycles possible. But are the high recovery rates of wastepaper enough to save our print industry from scrutiny? No. Despite disposal being the primary concern of consumers, increasing awareness of other factors, including raw materials usage, distribution impact, corporate social responsibility and more, means we must do more to prove our commitment to our environment.

This, however, is an opportunity for innovative publishers, end-users, and print producers to have industry changing conversations with suppliers. Understanding and tackling sourcing, energy consumption, water usage, logistics and more can seem overwhelming. But powered with this knowledge, and indeed the strategies suppliers have in place for the future, can ensure decisions are based on greater consideration for the environment. With net-zero and circularity challenges set by legislative and financial bodies, ensuring print products are sustainable not only secures the future, but also ensures the success of content with consumers. When already spending time and effort creating content for consumers, choosing the conscientious substrate, inks, and process methods to convey messages on print will be hugely rewarding.

Environmental concerns are increasingly influencing the way we eat, live, and travel.


As a responsible steward of our planet, we are the leading global manufacturer of 100% FSC/PEFC/Blue Angel certified, recycled paper utilising 1.5 million tonnes per annum. Family-owned, with more than 170 years of sustainable papermaking, LEIPA operates in the paper and packaging markets and includes an exciting offering for publishers.

Tel: 01580 292776



This article is part of our ‘Print Post-Pandemic’ special feature, looking at the future of print as we emerge from lockdown. The feature includes the following articles by leading publishers and suppliers:

A major part of the mix, by Mark Allen

Rewards extended dwell time, by Sally Hampton

Shout it loud: print is safe!, by Chris Horn

Targeted distribution is key, by Stephanie Hyde

New metrics needed, by Keiron Jefferies

Sustainability: consumers demanding more, by Sarah Lesting

We need to change the way we operate, by Nicola Murphy

Reasons for (justifiable) optimism, by Tim Robinson

Luxury is physical, by Piers Russell-Cobb

Positive outlook, by Adam Sherman

Subtle changes bring cost savings, by Julian Townsend

Turning ‘expensive’ into ‘premium’, by Neil Wass

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.