Paper cuts into polywrap’s dominance

Take-up of paper wrapping in favour of polywrapping by publishers is gathering pace with three major media groups opting to make switches, including venerable weekly Country Life moving to paper wrap for its subscriber copies.

Country Life is published by TI Media. It publishes 51 issues a year, and has an ABC circulation of 41,698 of which 23,510 are subscriber copies. 

Editor Mark Hedges says the move reflected the demands of the magazine’s readership: “More so than ever before, our readers are becoming advocates for our environment and that ethos should come through in everything we do.

“They are making changes to address their environmental impact and now they can rest assured that their subscription to Country Life is that bit kinder to the planet too.”

Country Life managing director Steve Prentice adds that the media group had been “cautious not to shift the environmental impact from one place to another”.

“We have worked hard with our partner, Walstead UK, to ensure this wrap is sourced from sustainably managed forests and is carbon-balanced.”

The magazine is printed at Walstead Bicester, and the paper wrapping is being carried out on site as part of a facilities management-style deal with mailing and fulfilment firm Westcolour, which has a base near Wyndeham Roche in Cornwall. 

“Westcolour is supplying the equipment and labour, and we are supplying the space, infrastructure and logistics,” explains Walstead group chief executive Paul Utting. 

“They wanted to do more with us, and they also had customers in the centre of the country they wanted to be able to service, so it was a meeting of minds and very much a partnership.”

Four mailing lines have been installed at Walstead Bicester – three Sitmas and a Buhrs. Two have paper wrapping, and two could be converted “as demand dictates”, according to Walstead group sales director Jon Hearnden. 

“We’re providing a solution for the titles we look after at Bicester. This has been building up over the past six months and has now really started to ramp up and build momentum,” Hearnden added.

Westcolour managing director James Ward says the firm has deliberately opted for a large reel size to maximise the potential of the offering. “We can wrap anything up to tabloid size so we can wrap larger products. Integrity Print is producing our printed reels, and Denmaur is our preferred paper partner so it’s all carbon balanced. 

“The whole partnership thing really works,” he notes. 

Country Life is the first TI Media title to opt to use paper wrap. The publisher said it was exploring alternatives to the use of polythene wrap for subscriber copies on its other titles, which would need to be “environmentally friendly while also being practical and cost-effective for each magazine’s audience”. 

Separately, publisher Kelsey Media has switched 10,000 monthly subscriber copies of Coast, also produced at Bicester, to paper wrapping. The July issue was the first to be paper wrapped. Sister title Psychologies swiftly followed suit. 

Good Housekeeping and Elle publisher Hearst has also made an ambitious pledge to replace polywrap with paper wrap on the subscriber copies of all of its titles by January 2020, after the business gained environmental standard ISO 14001 earlier this year. 

Chief executive James Wildman says Hearst is committed to making positive changes to help create a more sustainable future for all its stakeholders: “I am proud of our pledge to replace plastic magazine bags with sustainably-sourced paper wraps on Hearst UK’s subscriber copies by January 2020. This is an important step as we continue to prioritise our position as one of the most sustainable media companies in the UK.”

A number of companies have invested in new kit, or in converting existing polywrapping lines, in order to meet growing demand for paper-wrapped products. 

Publishers making paper wrap moves

RHS switched flagship magazine The Garden to paper wrapping at YM Group from the March issue

Immediate Media is now sending out subscriber copies of BBC Countryfile and BBC Wildlife in paper wrap, handled by Mailing & Marketing Solutions

TI Media has moved subscriber copies of weekly Country Life to paper wrapping at Walstead Bicester, which has partnered with Westcolour on the wrapping side 

Kelsey Media subscribers to monthlies Coast and Psychologies now receive them in paper wrap

Hearst has pledged to move subscriber copies of all its titles to paper wrap by January 2020