Why can’t we have an environmentally sustainable magazine wrap!?

Organisations that have taken up the campaign to ban single use plastics are increasingly filling their publications with great articles on their sustainability policy, ethical travel holidays and programmes to clear the oceans of plastic waste. Great articles printed on recycled or FSC approved stock using vegetable inks all serve to promote the organisations’ sustainability ethics – but all too often ignore the fossil-based polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP) wrap the magazine gets posted in or is displayed within on the newsstand.

This irony has not been missed by the team at Legacy Sport Media, who have been trying to find an economic alternative to the industry standard PE wrap used on most mailing lines. Some organisations claim their poly wrap to be ‘recyclable’ but in reality it is not accepted by most household recycling schemes and needs to be taken to a special carrier bag recycling collection point.
Recently mailing house Bakergoodchild developed a ‘100%-compostable wrap material’ made from starches derived from potato products, including waste form the food industry. They claim it contains no oil-based material, plastic or harmful toxins, making it eligible for EU certification. A well know ethical travel company has recently taken it up as well as a couple of campaigning membership associations keen to prove their Green credentials. Excited by the possibilities of this new wrap, the Legacy Team delved into the claims and process more deeply, only to find the alternative to PE & PP wrap is not only highly expensive but has several environmental pros and cons.

The latest PPA guidelines on the subject state: ‘Starch-based films are biodegradable and may also be compostable, but they are not recyclable. If starch-based films are used, these should be clearly marked as biodegradable and/or compostable as appropriate. These materials are not wanted in the recycling stream as they can have a negative impact on the recycled product. It is also very important to note that, in order to achieve the properties necessary for a selected application, many starch-based films incorporate biodegradable/compostable fossil-based petro-chemicals, often in high proportions. Whilst these non-bio-based ingredients to not affect biodegradability of the films, some of these can have a very high fossil carbon impact during production and will also release fossil carbon to the atmosphere at end-of-life. Thus, there may be a trade-off between biodegradability and carbon impact to consider. This could be particularly true of materials are home composted in poor composting conditions, which could lead to emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential. ‘*

Legacy Sport Media has been challenging paper mills and packaging producers to come up with a recyclable paper based option to meet the growing demand for a truly environmental alternative – not just a trendy green sounding solution that is potentially more harmful to the planet.

The European recycling rate for paper is over 72% with a goal of 74% by 2020, making it one of the most recycled products in the world. Maybe this is why organisations that do their environmental homework carefully are no looking for paper wrapping and smaller mailings returning to envelopes – with labeling to encourage recycling.

‘Digital is the answer’ – I hear you cry! With GDPR in place it is now all too easy to unsubscribe permanently from marketing brochures and membership managers will tell you their research proves that the association’s print magazine is often the only tangible benefit members can identify.

Let us all think more about the complete printed package and urge more paper producers to come up with a viable solution that eco-minded organisations can really shout about.

* Professional Publishers Association Magazine Plastic Wrapping Guidelines, July 2018.

Digital editions – how to find the right solution for you.

With more companies and membership associations looking to reduce the cost of communicating with their clients and members, digital newsletters and magazines are a solution that many organisations are now turning to.

Increasingly we get asked to suggest which platform is best? The fact that there are a myriad of providers out there from completely free use options through to complicated subscriber only versions with full rights management suggests that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

The best answer is actually the question – ‘what do you need a digital edition to do for your intended readership?’ Every organisation will have a different answer, so you really need to focus on what job you need your digital magazine or newsletter to do.

Is it content you want to share with as many people as possible for free?

If this is the main driver then save your money on fancy digital editions and retain traffic to your own domain by embedding a PDF on your own servers, then promote the link as widely as possible.

Do you have premium members only content to distribute to paid subscribers?

In the case of membership associations or magazine subscribers, asking them to login onto a browser edition does not cut the mustard anymore. Why when I have paid for a subscription/membership should I have to go online to read it? I might want to read it on my tablet on the train and how do I know when the new issue is out?  Most membership managers say that they need to actively send their members each edition as a download straight to their inbox as a service their clients expect – otherwise you are just competing for attention from all the other direct mail bumpf that we receive these days.

 Is your content so exclusive that you don’t wish readers to pass it on freely to other users?

In this specialist area of premium, paid for content you need to ensure your chosen platform has effective rights management software that only allows the subscriber to access the information they have paid for. However, having to download it via a specialist reader can be a pain, especially when many corporate networks block such readers, so this choice can be counter productive to B2B information providers.

 Are you looking to switch existing print readers to a digital only edition?

If you are in this situation you need to find a really simple procedure to persuade clients to register for a digital edition. No one wants to lose readership and without an email address and a client opt-in this is the reality if you just stop the printed version. How to mange this migration needs careful planning and finding the right, easily useable platforms that all your existing readers can access will add to the user experience.

 Confused already?

It can be a challenging minefield if you don’t start by asking the important questions of what job you need the digital edition to do and how your market will want to read it. If you speak to a number of providers they will all have slightly different options and features others don’t – all adding to the confusion! The answer is to seek out the advice of an independent agency with expertise in the this field, such as Legacy Sport Media, who have experience from the very beginnings of digital magazines and understand the needs and concerns of organisations making this big step. Legacy Sport Media do not have the ‘one size fits all’ approach and seek to thoroughly understand their clients requirements before either building a bespoke system or advising the neatest off the peg solution to fit the specific project requirements.

 John Heyes is Publishing Director at Legacy Sport Media.

 

Digital Rowing Magazine & app

Digital Rowing Magazine & app