RCA Newsletter - January 2002 

LEAD STORY: State Dollars Impact Forests

FEATURE STORY: Recycling: From Olympic Highs to Market Lows

a) Wood Products Industry Trends
b) Getting a Gold Star: Awards for Wood Reduction
c) Cornstalks: Out of the Fields, Into Paper
d) EPA: Producing Green Guides & Buying Hemp Paper
e) Drying Off Without Destroying Forests
f) Farming for Cars: Ag Fibers Find New Uses
g) Carpeting: The Greening of a Wood Alternative

Campus Procurement
Government Purchasing

Building Codes Survey
Purchasing Coalition
Office Green Guide


State Dollars Impact Forests

The Resource Conservation Alliance (RCA) and the Government Purchasing Project (GPP) are surveying state governments to see if they are buying "forest-friendly" products. Government's tremendous purchasing power -- accounting for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product -- can be leveraged to reduce demand for wood, to stimulate the market for products such as recycled paper and to consequently help conserve forests.

Nearly 100 procurement officials in all 50 states will be surveyed. State government officials will be asked to identify any state policies and practices that call for the procurement of environmentally preferable wood products or wood alternatives in five product categories: paper, packaging, furniture, pallets and "green" building. The results of the survey will be published in a report, which will be released to the public.

To see the full text of the news release (and to check out The Government Purchasing Project's redesigned website), go to http://www.gpp.org/press_survey.html.

Purchasing officials knowledgeable about state policies and practices for the five product categories can fill the survey out on line at http://www.rca-info.org/survey/.

Recycling: From Olympic Highs to Market Lows

While many in America believe that recycling is an environmental success story, in fact recycling is seriously struggling, reported the Seattle Times on January 14, 2002 in "Recycling's Down in the Dumps." According to the article, the markets for many recyclables are down with the steady growth in recycling rates in the United States also slipping back toward mid-1990s levels. Experts in the field site numerous reasons for the slumping market -- people forgetting to or to lazy to recycle, doubts over whether the effort to recycle is worth it and less or bad publicity about recycling in the news.

Publicity for recycling may get a boost with Salt Lake Olympics goal to achieve "zero waste" to landfills or incinerators. Recycling groups, namely GrassRoots Recycling Network and California Resource Recovery Association, provided detailed critiques to ensure that the recycling systems and purchasing decisions planned would enable the Olympics to succeed in this goal. All beverage containers and plates used in the public areas will be recyclable or compostable. Even Coca Cola is responding to years of protest introducing the first Coke bottles to be used in North America made with some recycled content (10 percent). Materials produced in large quantities such as corrugated cardboard and mixed paper will be separated for recycling. The three new buildings constructed for the Olympics use recycled content products. A process has been set up to recycle construction and demolition waste such as cardboard and wood. The Olympics' staff has been educated on the zero waste goal and volunteers have been assigned to help educate the public during the events. [Source: "Going for the Gold: GRRN Olympics Zero Waste Update" post on Office of the Federal Environmental Executive List Serv and "Environmentalists Hail New Olympics Recycling Plan," Waste News, January 18, 2002.]

The Seattle Times also reports that markets for recycled products are in some instances expanding. Weyerhaeuser officials estimate that recycled paper production will increase from 150 million tons in 2000 to 175 million tons in 2005 worldwide. Weyerhaeuser representatives predict that nearly 50 percent of all paper will contain some recycled fiber by 2005 (up from the current 44 percent).

Not all recycled paper markets are doing so well. Conservatree recently announced a study to uncover the reasons behind the drop in market demand for environmentally preferable office and printing papers. The study is predicted to provide a "snapshot" of the industry and its markets to reveal the basis of the obstacles slowing market development. A wide variety of interest groups -- forestry companies, manufacturers, distributors, printers, publishers, corporate and government purchasers, recycling coordinators and environmental groups
-- will be contacted for the study which is being funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, see http://www.conservatree.com/learn/ListenSnapshot/Listen.shtml.


a) Wood Products Industry Trends
In 2001, forest product companies were faced with depressed demand and weak prices, reported in About Pulp/Paper's "Weyerhaeuser Profit Warning Seen as Trend" on January 3, 2002. Indeed, Weyerhaeuser, one of the largest American paper and wood products manufacturers, said that prices and order volumes for a number of product lines were significantly lower than had been anticipated. Decreased demand -- the goal of forest
conservation activists -- for a number of wood products is projected to continue through much of 2002, according to "U.S. Forest Products Industry Shows Signs of Getting Out of the Woods in Late 2002," in About Pulp/Paper's January 3, 2002 article. The other trend that is expected to continue is the consolidation of wood product companies. The top five global companies in the pulp, paper and timber products sectors are International Paper, Georgia-Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, Kimberly-Clark and Stora Enso which accounted for 30 percent of industry sales in 2000, according to About Paper/Printing's analysis "What Will the Industry
Look Like in 2005?" In the past, this has spelled bad news for the recycled paper market, as numerous recycled paper mills closed due to consolidation.

b) Getting a Gold Star: Awards for Wood Reduction
Institutions working to reduce their consumption of wood products are encouraged to apply for awards as a means to help motivate employees and to help set wood reduction goals. The GreenBusiness Letter January 2002 issue highlighted a number of corporate award programs, some with key wood reduction interests in "National Corporate Environmental Awards and Recognition Programs, 2002." The Design Resource Institute sponsors the International Design Resource Awards which encourages products and buildings to be made from post-consumer recycled and sustainably harvested materials. For more information, see
http://www.designresource.org. The Green Globe Award sponsored by Flexible Packaging Association highlights flexible packaging design which conserves resources and prevents pollution. For more information, see http://www.flexpack.org/achievement_awards.htm. The National Recycling Coalition's Annual Awards Program includes categories such as Best
Business or Government Buy Recycled Program. For more information, see

c) Cornstalks: Out of the Fields, Into Paper
The January 2002 issue of AURI Ag Innovation News reported that Mells industries in Des Moines, Iowa is using cornstalk fiber for paper making in "Pulp Reality." The paper is made from 50 percent cornstalk plus recycled wood pulp, softwood pulp and cotton. The company plans to build a plant to process 300,000 tons of cornstalks annually. For more
information on agricultural fibers as wood alternatives, see

d) EPA: Producing Green Guides & Buying Hemp Paper
Federal government purchasing efforts continue to impact the United States' wood consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a series of purchasing guides covering a variety of topics, including a number that can impact wood consumption, according to EPP Update's Issue 10, January 2002 article, "EPP Supplements Its Suite of
Tools with Product-Specific Purchasing Guides." The guides cover topics such as copiers (which can have paper saving options), food serviceware (which can be made from agricultural fibers instead of virgin wood) and meetings and conferences (which can be planned to minimize paper use) and are available on-line at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/epp. The newsletter also discussed the implementation of Executive Order 13148, which mandates environmental management systems in federal agencies, and how it will impact green purchasing efforts in "Environmental Management Systems Drive Agencies to Meet EPP Goals." The issue itself is a model of wood reduction efforts, printed on 25 percent industrial hemp/75 percent postconsumer recycled fiber. For more information on government
purchasing, see our Government Purchasing Project website at http://www.gpp.org/.

e) Drying Off Without Destroying Forests
A new electric hand dryer was recently introduced into the marketplace which may have an impact on the consumption of paper towels. Excel Dryer, Inc. is manufacturing the "XLerator" which greatly reduces the energy consumption of standard electric hand dryers, as well as the time it takes to dry hands, according to "XLerator -- The Electric Hand Dryer Reinvented" in Environmental Building News, January 2002. The dryer also consumes much less energy per use than virgin or even recycled paper towels and of course eliminates the need for this additional paper product. So architects and designers looking for the most environmentally preferable option for public rest rooms have a new, forest-friendly option.

f) Farming for Cars: Ag Fibers Find New Uses
Researchers are increasingly studying ways that biobased materials can be utilized in automobiles and building products, reported AgFiber Technology Newsletter's January 18, 2002's article in "Biobased Composites and Materials Research: Experiencing Accelerating Growth at Michigan State University." The materials are attractive, because they are strong, lightweight, affordable and renewable including fibers such as kenaf, jute, flax, hemp, sisal, corn stalk or grass. (The development of these fibers for both the auto and building products markets is crucial to slowing demand for wood in these areas.)

g) Carpeting: The Greening of a Wood Alternative
Carpeting -- a potential wood floor alternative -- is becoming increasingly environmentally friendly. A new coalition of industry, recycling and government officials are striving to increase recycling of the nearly 5 billion pounds of carpeting discarded annually from 4 percent to 40 percent, according to Waste News' January 4, 2002 article "Carpet Coalition Sets Diversion Goal of 40 Percent." The new organization, Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), hopes to reach this goal by 2012.


Campus Ecology will be hosting a "Buying for the Future" teach in along with a one-hour on-demand course by Director of Procurement at Rutgers University, Kevin Lyons. For more information, see http://www.nwf.org/campusecology/drivingsustainablemarkets.cfm. The
Campus Ecology program has also redesigned its website at http://www.nwf.org/campusecology/index.cfm.

The Center for A New American Dream and TerraChoice Environmental Services, Inc. are co-hosting a North American green purchasing conference April 22 to 25, 2002, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It will be held at the Sheraton Rittenhouse, one of the greenest hotels in North America. For more information, see http://www.newdream.org/procure.


The Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT) issued the results of a survey assessing the regulatory barriers to more sustainable buildings. The survey showed that building codes frequently present barriers to the approval of green building alternatives. See
the report at http://www.dcat.net/Codes/codes.html. RCA's policy paper, How Building Codes Affect Sustainable Development is also available on-line at

The Sustainable Products Purchasers Coalition (SPPC) is working to create a standardized form on which manufacturers can provide the life cycle data on their products. The coalition's primary goal is to "aggregate its members' purchasing power to demonstrate to manufacturers that there is a strong and vocal community of purchasers that buy sustainable products and are seeking reliable, standardized environmental data on sustainable products. The form will be available on the website at http://www.sppcoalition.org/ in the coming year.

The City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development has produced a 40-page Green Office Guide. The guide's aim is to help businesses reduce operating costs through resource efficiency in the office environment. A copy of the report can be found under the "Breaking
News" section of their website at http://www.sustainableportland.org.

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