Site visit: how is pantheon// produced?

In November of last year the pantheon// committee visited our printing company, to find out how this year's edition of pantheon// will be produced sustainably. The committee talked to a representative about how paper is sourced and processed. Did you know that all paper carries a traceable sustainability certification, similar to timber products? Or that cards are embossed using machines dating back to the 50’s? 

It turns out that paper production and processing can be as much of a sustainability minefield as the problems we encounter in the built environment. The aim to produce pantheon// as sustainably as possible turned out to be more complicated than expected. In terms of paper sourcing, transportation and innovation, many printing companies are trying to offer the best options available. New technologies provide new types of paper, often made from wood alternatives like elephant grass (miscanthus) that claim to have a smaller footprint. On first glance these alternatives seem like the obvious solution to the problem, but reality is more complex. Similar to material sourcing, the total footprint of a paper product also contains transport emissions, use of ink and processing. Calculating the environmental gain of such a new paper type quickly becomes a matter of opinion. If a ‘green’ paper requires twice as much ink in printing, is it still the better choice?

So why do we still produce pantheon// on paper? Why not solve the entire issue by switching to digital editions altogether. Many studies have shown that reading on paper is far more efficient than reading digital articles. You tend to comprehend certain subjects better when you read it on paper. Even though reading on screen is a good and sustainable alternative, switching fully to a digital platform seems unlikely. Having a physical book, or in this case magazine, seems to have a certain value. Digital articles don’t have the same sensory experience that physical books have. Physical books represent something solid and timeless. 

The visit to the press made us realise the importance of having physical prints and the effort behind it. We experienced machines in use for over 50 years, emphasizing the timelessness of print. For the foreseeable future pantheon// will continue in print as usual, but we will have to move with the times to stay as sustainable as possible. //