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Some questions and answers about the new Institute bond

Publishing Services Bureau director Monica Lee, who heads the team of brokers and designers coordinating the new bond project, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the new paper.

Q: Does "green" really mean green?

A: Some members of the community have asked if the letterhead will be colored green. By "green" we mean simply that it is environmentally responsible. The new bond will be available in both white and natural white, unlike the old bond, which was available in white only. Paper samples are available at both Copy Technology Centers and at the Publishing Services Bureau.

Will the paper match the old bond?

As mentioned, the color is different from the previous bond and the weight will increase from 20-pound to 24-pound, which is the standard weight used for stationery. The heavier, higher-quality paper performs better in folding equipment at mailing facilities. But the most noticeable difference in the new bond will be in the watermark. In the old bond, the watermark of the MIT seal was centered on the sheet, but centering required a lot of trimming and therefore a lot of wasted paper. The new bond will use what's called a random watermark, meaning that the watermark will appear at different places on the sheet, with one full watermark appearing on each sheet. The waste factor on a random watermark is only 1 percent as opposed to 5 percent with the centered version.

Pre-consumer waste, post-consumer waste -- what does it mean?

It's a fancy way of distinguishing paper that's already been used from paper that's never been used. Pre-consumer waste, also called post-industrious waste, constitutes scraps of paper such as from trimmed edges that are recycled right at the mill. Post-consumer waste is paper recycled by you, the consumer, and eventually returned to the mills.

Will the recycled paper cost more?

Yes. There are three contributing factors. The paper is a higher quality. Recycled paper costs a bit more. And paper prices are up in the current market. We are lucky to have avoided a price increase over the last five years. The current bond has been available through Office Depot at a cost of $8.95 per ream. We are negotiating the price of the new bond with the mill and anticipate an increase of $2-$3 per ream. This increase is comparable to the increase experienced with the new recycled copy paper introduced to the MIT community last year.

Will the quality be the same?

Recycled paper has qualities that actually make it superior to conventional paper. For example, it is generally more opaque, dense and flexible. Another plus is that unlike the previous bond, the new letterhead will have matching envelopes and business cards (unwatermarked), as well as matching unwatermarked sheets in a variety of weights, including cover stock.

Does recycled paper really make a difference to the environment?

More than 200 million trees are saved every year as a result of recycling efforts. The manufacturing of recycled paper produces 74 percent less air pollution and 35 percent less water pollution, and requires 64 percent less energy. I read that Americans use 67 million tons of paper a year -- about 600 pounds per person -- which is more than any other country in the world, and most of it goes directly to landfills.

Why do we have to wait until spring?

The paper is available immediately without a watermark, but it will take a couple of months to create and manufacture the new watermark. If you are about to run out of stationery, it makes sense to order a six-month supply of unwatermarked bond to get you through until the watermarked version is available.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 7, 2001.

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