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Washington State University: Ever Green

The University Publishing team at Washington State University has made a perennial commitment to environmentally conscious operations and materials usage.

March 2010 By Dawn Greenlaw-Scully
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A SCHOOL located in the southeastern part of the Evergreen State might be expected to maintain a green state of mind. And, indeed, Pullman-based Washington State University (WSU) prioritizes university-wide social responsibility, conservation and environmental practices.

So, it's not surprising that WSU's University Publishing office has established its own sustainability program, which promotes responsible usage of paper and other printing resources. Nor would it be unusual for the publishing agency to garner support from customers and colleagues on campus.

Still, who'd have thought that, in 2008, WSU's College of Business would dedicate the entire back cover of its annual magazine to University Publishing in recognition of one of the in-plant's green initiatives? Don't business majors typically focus on monetary shades of green?

Well...no, especially in a business college led by an environmentally enlightened dean.

"Their response was really heartwarming," says Steven Rigby, University Publishing's director of Printing Services. "They probably could have sold that page as advertising."

Why the kudos? University Publishing had been awarded Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody certification, which recognizes the in-plant's correct use of FSC-certified paper and allows the agency to use the FSC logo on print jobs.

"We were the first university in-plant in the nation to achieve certification," Rigby notes.

The in-plant began the process in 2007, when a paper merchant told Rigby about the Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program for FSC forest management certification.

"I contacted SmartWood and found that the program just rang true with some of our overarching goals and processes," he recalls.

The most difficult part of the FSC certification process was the paperwork involved.

"We were already buying and using FSC-certified papers, but we didn't know how to understand and prepare the forms," Rigby remembers. "Once we figured that out and had our systems in place, it's been a pretty easy process to maintain."

Workflow Adjustments

The in-plant did have to adjust its workflow to accommodate program requirements.

"We had to adapt our job ticket, specifying that we're using certified paper, which follows a job all the way through the shop," Rigby explains. "Invoices also need to specify FSC, and paperwork from vendors must maintain that chain of custody."

In addition, the in-plant now uses green signs to denote pressroom areas that are accepted as part of the FSC chain.

 

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