Flowers on the books!

Here are the last brochures about the Ecolabelled papers and the Ecolabelled books.


An effective idea for the politicians: eco-friendly-made books can produce huge green-awareness between people.

Newspapers and magazines have short life (few days). Books stay in our home libraries forever.
And ALL OF US have some books in their hands, sooner or later.
So, the book is a perfect tool to teach something......

For example...... : if a book is produced using eco-friendly criteria, and if we print on the cover of that book a label (a "green-certification" label) we will see this green-label for many, many times and years.
And if all the books in the world will be green-labelled, this will be a huge, huge educative toll about ecological matters!!!

It is easy to do!
There are already green certifications (The Nordic Swan, The EU-Flower for Printed Matter, etc.) that can be used for books production, in order to guarantee the whole production process and all the materials used (papers, inks, glues, cardboards, etc.).
And there are green-labels that can be placed ON THE COVER of the books produced using eco-friendly materials and technologies.

This can be not just an immediate advantage for the environment and the climate (because green-practices are used in the production), but - MOST IMPORTANT - the green-labels will stay forever on the cover of those books, and every time we will have those books in our hands we will see the green-labels and we will be aware of the ecological matters. And this will be educative.
(can you imagine, for instance, IF ALL THE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN WILL BE GREEN-LABELLED? WE WILL GIVE TO CHILDREN AN IMPORTANT AND LONG-LASTING EDUCATION AND AWARENESS ABOUT GREEN MATTERS AND ECOLOGY!!! Something that they will remember when they will become men and women and will have to manage their companies, their families, their decisions.)

These green practices for printing are not so much expensive and complicated.
But unfortunately very few publishers and printers use these green-certifications, now. Because the editorial industry of books is not rich.
So, why the Governments don't think to promote, and to give some financial aids not just to cars but also to those printers and publishers who decide to produce eco-friendly-made books and put green-labels on the covers of those books?

The book is an instrument of culture and freedom. And can become a powerful tool of green awareness.


About the papers: which one is better than the other one?

Here it is a very good document, about FSC, PEFC, Ecolabel, Nordic Swan, Blue Angel, Paper Profile, etc. and all the specific peculiarities of different certified papers:

Clic here

Very interesting the final scheme: about chemicals, emissions, climate impact, waste, and the comparison between the different certifications for papers.

How to recycle paper

Maybe few people know that not all printed papers are recyclable in the same way.
It depends on inks used.
It depends on glues used.
It depends on how many times you recycle the same paper.

So, first of all, it is important to know how to print, if you want to have the chance to recycle well your printed paper.
(of course we hope that no one book will be destroyed... but it happens!)

So, here it is a link to a website dedicated to recycling of printed paper:

There are useful suggestions about recycling also in the Nordic Swan criteria (see the post below).

My personal opinion: I am not a big fan of the recycled paper.
"Books like flowers" should be made with greener paper! (I prefer to use recycled paper for magazines, newspapers, brochures, etc)


How to produce a certified eco-friendly book?

Here are the technical criteria for The Nordic Swan

And here are the criteria (Final draft) for the EU-Flower

But please notice that the EU-Flower is not officially approved, yet.

As you can read, ALL the elements of the book are considered, not just paper.

You must be aware that these criteria are not about the safety of the product/book (the safety is guaranteed by the laws). These criteria are something that you can voluntary apply for, in order to realize a greener product/book (using eco-friendly materials and using sustainable printing methods)


As you can see, we are many!

Here it is, for instance, a list of 100 bloggers, that love the eco-friendly-made books, taking part in a project named Eco Libris.
Hello guys! Ciao!


Choose your ink (bio)

"The BRC labeling program is the first phase of a comprehensive NAPIM initiative for evaluating and minimizing printing inks’ environmental impact. This first step is focused on the use of bio-derived renewable materials in printing ink. The BRC Index is an important and quantifiable value that can be used in conjunction with the already established guidelines for safety. The bio-derived renewable content is only one factor and should not be used as the sole basis for determining environmental friendliness, as a full life cycle analysis must be taken into consideration. These additional issues will be considered in Phase II and Phase III of the program." (source: NAPIM website)

It is interesting to note that: if National (American) Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers is working to make printing inks more sustainable for the environment, it must be a good (and necessary!) idea.

The BRC program is voluntary. The printing ink manufacturers can join it or not.

Another note: in the NAPIM website there is the list of ink manufacturers and printing inks (the products!) that have joined the BRC program and that already have a BRC Index certification (so you can read which inks are made with a high percentage of renewable materials).

Publishers!!! Please take note! (you can ask to your printer: please use a high -60 or 70 or 80- BRC Index printing ink for our next books. - Remember: the printers can do it! It is not impossible. And don't think that these inks are very expensive.)


Here it is a letter that was published on the major Swedish newspapers on September 29th, 2009 (Translated from Swedish through Google automatic translator)

Open letter to those who are working in printing or publishing.
Last year sold 80 million books in Sweden. Guess how many were ecolabelled.

This is an open letter to you working in a printing or publishing companies in Sweden. It is, in addition, an invitation. For several years, we at The Swan have talked to you about the Swan Label certification, but everything is going extremely slowly. Very few ecolabelled books are published.
We can already make an environmentally friendly product, using environmentally friendly paper, avoiding the worst chemicals, separately collecting waste. This is good, but a Swan Label ensures the whole production chain and it is an easy way to show your environmental commitment to people.
Readers are interested in Ecolabelled books? Our experience from other industries
show that consumers value a Swan Label product very much. For four years we did a survey about what newspaper readers think it is most important in a newspaper. Of course, news coverage is at the top, but near the top there is the Environment, prior to sports coverage and prior the fact that the newspaper is free. And interest in environmentally friendly products only grows.
Now, it is strange. When we talk to you as a printing company, you say that you would like to Swan Label the books, but that publishers are not interested. When we talk with you publishers, you say that you are interested in the Swan Label, but that you don't have answers from the printers.
Have you really talked to each other?

Greetings from us, The Swan.
Cecilia Ehrenborg Williams
Business Area Manager, B2B, Ecolabelling Sweden AB


About inks and colours... look at this!

Youtube video about a new (2010) full colour e-book reader
As I was saying, maybe it is time to improve the eco-sustainability of the traditional paper+ink books. With serious "green" certifications. People in charge for Ecolabel: please approve the EU-Flower for Printed Matter certification, soon! (With very strict rules. No compromises. Thank you)


Bio-inks for books. (is "100% bio" possible?)

After my trip to the Frankfurt Bookfair (a bit less people than last year, many books as usual, much more e-book-reader devices - mainly Korean -, and big announce by Google that will start selling digital books in 2010) here we are, back to our beloved eco-friendly paper-made books.

As sayd in the previous post, NAPIM has invented something really simple, and - as all the very simple things - brilliant.
They have invented the BRC Index for printing inks.
Each ink will have, in their purposes, a BRC Index.
BRC 40? Means that the ink XY is made with 40% of renewable materials (vegetable materials, mainly).
BRC 60? Means that the ink ZZ is made with 60% of renewable materials. (see the image)
There is also a complete list of these bio-derived materials, in the NAPIM website.
Very simple and very clever.
This BRC Index is a great idea, in my opinion. It will improve competition between ink manufacturers. And it will be easier to know how much eco-friendly an ink is. (Because, you know, it is not enough that you ask for an ink with some vegetable materials inside. You must know how much of them! Many printing inks have, for example, some vegetable oils, but they can have also mineral oils - petroleum - and so their BRC is still low, maybe 30 or 40!)

BUT. Is it possible to reach a BRC 100?
Yes and no.
The ink (the one for offset sheetfed machines, the most used for books) is made of: oils, resins, pigments, additives.
In the so-called "vegetable-based" inks, just oils and resins are vegetable (and renewable).
As oils and resins are the bigger part of the printing-ink, you can reach a BRC 70, maybe 80, just using vegetable oils and resins.
But pigments (the colours) and additives (most of them) are chemical.
It would be possible to use vegetable pigments? Technically yes. But the colours would be less brilliant, experts say. (Anyway, I would like to have at least one ink made with vegetable pigments! Remember: Books Like Flowers! Ink manufacturers: please, take note!)
And not using chemical additives (because some of these additives are not very good for the environment)? Experts say: no. (Well, I am not a chemist, but I know that some chemical additives are  necessary just to let the printing machines work faster and faster. So they are not really necessary. There are always greener solutions!)

Do you know Wal-Mart? They want bio-inks.

Yes, you know Wal-Mart. The mega-super-chain-of-shops in America.
Very recently (last July) Wal-Mart has announced that all the products on their shelves must have a "sustainability index".
What you can find on Wal-Mart shelves? Objects. But all the objects are packaged! And packages are made with paper and ink.

So, also ink manufacturers are now working on this sustainable-direction.

Actually, we must say that some of them were going in that direction before the Wal-Mart call.

But now ink manufacturers are able to participate in a program recently launched by the American National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) that certifies the amount of Bio-derived Renewable Content (BRC index) used in the production of printing inks.

It is TODAY possible to have a good printing ink for books (Offest Sheetfed printing machines) having a BRC index of 80 (that means: made with 80% of renewable materials).
But most part of those inks have still BRC index of 30, or less.
The choice is in our hands.

More informations in next posts.


Nordic Swan for Printing Companies - version 4.3

The version 4 of the Nordic Swan certificate for printing companies was valid from 13 December 2005 to 31 march 2010.
Usually they update the Swan criteria every 5 years.
But few months ago the criteria have been updated/prolonged to 31 march 2012.
Now the actual Swan Label version is 4.3.

This post is very boring, isn't it...?
I disagree. Not because it was written by me, but because the Nordic Swan for printing companies is one of the best certificate for printed matter in the world.
What is "printed matter"? Books.
A book with a Swan Label (printed by a printing company who has a Swan Label certificate) is almost 100% green!
The Swan-labelled book is not just made with "forest-friendly" paper, but the entire printing process and all the materials used are eco-friendly!

(Of course I exaggerate: it is not 100% green. The perfection is not of this world. But it is definitely 90% green, which is not bad at all!)

(I have a Swan-labelled book in my hand, and the logo is placed on the back cover. Take a look.)


Quantity (e-books) vs. Quality (eco-friendly books)

If you have a competitor who is unbeatable on prices and on distribution, what is your only chance?
The unbeatable competitor is (will be, but very soon) the e-book reader (Kindle, or mobile-phones with e-book readers inside).
Very soon, maybe in 2015, everybody will have an e-book reader.
So, you will have this kind of option: to buy the last Dan Brown book in digital version (4 euros/dollars) or buy it in paper version (20 euros/dollars)....
Which one people will choose?

I know, we strongly believe that people will ALWAYS LOVE the traditional books. And maybe it will be true.
But I think it is better start thinking to some added-value for our old, dusty books.
For example, offering books made with serious ecological certifications. (and not just a generic "recycled paper made" or "acid free paper made", that means nothing...)

Nordic Swan and EU-Ecolabel. For books.

Did you know that in Scandinavian countries it is possible to produce a book with a complete green certification?
I mean: not just FSC paper. Not just vegetable-based inks. Not just some eco-sustainable printing technology.
I mean a certification for the ENTIRE book.
Nordic Swan. This is the name of the only european (Scandinavian, actually) certification that guarantees that the entire book (paper, inks, glues, printing technologies, etc.) is eco-friendly.
And you can put the Nordic Swan logo on the cover of the book.
Of course, if you are a publisher working in Italy (or France, or Austria, ...) it is not very useful to put on your book a Nordic Swan logo. Nobody knows it! (and, actually, it is not very used on scandinavian books, neither.)
But, did you know that also the European Union is planning to create a similar certification, valid for all the european countries?
EU-Flower or EU-Ecolabel for printed matter. This is the name.

Unfortunetly, they are talking about it since the beginning of third millennium.
Now they say that they will make a decision in 2010.
Let's hope.

European toilet papers have very complete green-certifications. European books (except scandinavian)... not yet.


What we can do? Write.

What we can do to make the traditional books more ecological? What we (readers, publishers, authors, printers, etc) can practically do?
Here it is one idea, for publishers.
Publishers that use some ecological materials or ecological printing technologies should always WRITE IT on the back cover of the books (or inside the colophon page: but not so many people read it...):
''This book is made with certified paper"
"This book is printed with vegetable-based inks"
"This book is printed by an ISO 14001 certified printing company".
Etc. etc.
The power of the publishing companies is the written word. Don't forget about it...
So this can be a perfect way to make the readers aware of the ecological commitment of one specific book. Some readers will buy it, because of it. But, more important, all the other publishing companies will start to do the same, because this is the market competition!! And this commitment will grow and grow AND GROW.

It looks logic. Isn't it?

Kindle is coming....How traditional books can survive?

"Buying paperback novels could soon be a thing of the past, after research revealed that digital books are more eco-friendly than their physical counterparts. The study, by CleanTech, found that e-readers have more of a positive environmental impact than the publishing industry's efforts to cut carbon emissions through recycling, and benefits of electronic reading devices will also massively outweigh the damage caused by manufacturing the systems. E-readers will have a staggering impact on improving the sustainability and environmental impact on one of the world's most polluting industries: the publishing of books, newspapers and magazines." (from: - 3 September 2009)

I believe it's time for the traditional paper+ink books to become a "100% green product". If they want to survive.
(Now they have invented also an e-book-reader with a solar panel... No batteries... More and more eco-friendly... - 20 October 2009)