Where possible, we use materials that are considered environmentally friendly for all publications. By choosing recycled fibre and paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council wherever possible, our clients know that the resulting books are using pulp that comes from sustainable forests. Paper is obviously a significant part of any production, around one-third of the actual manufacturing cost (not including design, origination and editorial costs). Somewhere around 18 trees are needed to make up one tonne of paper. It's worth bearing in mind that paper mills use trees that are grown for the pulp which makes paper and that, if these trees were not grown, then the land could well be used for housing estates and factories. Even worse, for golf courses!
So there is no hard and fast rule, especially where recycled paper is concerned. No client would thank us for producing books of poor quality and, until very recently, recycled paper has been equated with poor reproduction of illustrations. That situation is improving but we would hesitate to automatically recommend recycled papers, especially for books where the illustrations are in colour and quality is paramount. Then we would use papers that are FSC approved.
If, though, we are producing black and white text books, reference books and books that do not require significant attention to illustrations, then we will suggest recycled papers as an alternative, and the client may feel that the ultimate readers will appreciate that choice. The client can even request the use of vegetable inks such as soya which degrade faster than chemically-derived inks. It's useful to note, though, that soya ink takes longer to dry than conventional inks and therefore more power may be consumed in the drying process, or more chemicals may be needed to seal it. So there is no point in jumping on any old bandwagon simply for the feel-good factor. ‘Tried and tested’ has to be the mantra.