Paper2012 event opens with talk of sustainability, recycling and the digital future

Submitted by: Joan MacKenzie 04/28/2012

Paper2012 event recently held in New York City.

March 27, 2012

The Paper2012 event opened Monday in New York City with touches on the industry's record on sustainability and a snap shot of the digital age impact on traditional use of printing and communication papers.

Previously branded as Paper Week until 2010, the annual event came to Lower Manhattan from Chicago last year and more than a century before that at the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

Donna Harman, CEO of the American Forest & Paper Assn, a co-sponsor of the event with the National Paper Trade Assn Alliance, said the location this year was in recognition of the post 9-11 revitalization of the surrounding area including the National 9-11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center.

With a conference theme of ‘The View Forward', Harman said the bright future in New York held the same promise for the paper industry.

New AF&PA chairman and Boise CEO Alexander Toeldte said the industry is distinguished in its environmental, including a new record paper recovery rate in 2011 of 66.8%.

"We have a good story to tell and are constantly improving that story," he told the Paper2012 opening session.

He said the industry's recycling result is greater than the plastic, glass and aluminum industries combined.

He added that a ‘check-off' plan underway will promote the beneficial aspects of paper use, similar to the well known ‘Got Milk?' campaign.

"I am personally encouraged about the future of our industry," Toeldte said.

Frictionless communication'

Technology expert, author and founder of webcasts.com, Scott Klosoky, reviewed the growth and role of digital information and social media.

He noted the recent loss of more than 100 newspapers and the bankruptcies of several major companies that failed to recognize and adapt to the "frictionless communication" available at low to no cost that is changing the way people do business.

Kodak, he said, holds several patents on digital photography but failed to develop its own presence in the field; music seller Virgin Megastore was supplanted by computer company Apple and its I-tunes; bookseller Borders failed to meet the growth of e-readers such as Kindle; and Blockbuster was undone by the advent of movie downloads.

"In a knowledge economy, smart people win," Klosoky said.

Opportunities for the paper industry include the message of recycling and the positive aspects of paper use vs digital technology.

"There's no need for a paperless society," he added, noting paper books, periodicals and direct mail will co-exist with digital versions. "There is a role for paper."

He said the industry can use digital technology to get its message out, reach customers, manage sales and connect to the world.

Earlier, talking about the millennial generation, Boise's Toeldte said they associate paper with trust and organization, and they are the customers of the future.

Relating a visit to the 9-11 Memorial, Harman saw people using paper to etch the names of the victims included in the monument.

"Paper is ingrained in the lives of Americans," she said.