Elle in recycled paper first

Elle magazine has used recycled paper for the first time as part of a special edition devoted to encouraging sustainability in the fashion business.

The September issue of Elle UK went on sale today (8 August), billed as ‘the sustainability issue’ on the cover. The autumn publications of glossy fashion titles are typically bumper issues and Elle said it was its biggest of the year. The Hearst title has an ABC-certified monthly circulation of 168,850.

Elle has switched its text pages from its usual UPM Star 75gsm to a 70gsm UltraSky grade from Leipa Paper for the special edition. Leipa uses waste paper as the main raw material at its two mills in Germany, and UltraSky is made from 100% post-consumer waste.

David Heine, Leipa Paper UK managing director for publishing paper, said it was an exciting project to be involved with, and evidence of the growing importance of environmental and sustainability credentials.

“It was a great idea for Elle to use recycled paper for their sustainability issue,” he said. “The team there liked the feel of UltraSky, it’s a bit bulkier than standard LWC and it also has a slight coating for better printability. I hope everyone likes the finished result.”

It’s unusual for high-end glossy magazines to use recycled grades, although sister title Elle Decoration has used recycled paper from Leipa for special supplements in the past.

“It is also indicative of the improvement in quality standards on recycled grades that such a prestigious, quality conscious title can be printed on such papers while maintaining the quality thresholds required by Elle,” Heine added.

Elle is printed at Wyndeham Roche, with covers printed by Westdale Press.

The issue also includes an editorial page explaining Elle’s paper choice and the manufacturing methods behind it. The magazine said it would typically use the equivalent of 1,000 trees'-worth of paper for the issue, but also pointed out the renewable nature of  forestry for papermaking.

Anne-Marie Curtis, the editor-in-chief of Elle UK, acknowledged that the September Elle is not a 100% sustainable issue, but said the magazine had taken “great steps towards progress”.

The title also set out its own sustainability manifesto, including various ways that it aims to improve its own working practices. Its pledges include the elimination of single-use plastics in the Elle office and on photoshoots, using recycled set props whenever possible; considering the working environment in the production of the magazine, and working with suppliers to improve practices.

As part of the sustainability initiative Elle commissioned research among its core audience of young women, which revealed that 62% were unaware that the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters.

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