Published 4/1/2009

How green is the AAOS?

As I placed AAOS Now in my recycling bin last week, I noticed three other high-gloss fliers from the Academy. I also had a catalog left over from the American Society of Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), which I noticed was printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and had recycled content. No information was provided about the paper used by AAOS.

Over the past year, most non-profits that I receive mail from have either switched to FSC-certified and/or recycled paper or have offered on-line versions. These measures save paper, are less damaging to the environment, and save money.

ASSH has conducted surveys of its membership on reducing waste and recycling at the annual meeting, and has made a concerted effort to reduce unnecessary printing, re-use signs when possible, and select products for the meeting that reflect an effort to minimize their environmental impact.

Perhaps I have missed the Academy’s efforts to “green” its operations. But the oversized glossy pages of AAOS Now lead me to think that the issue has yet to be addressed. I hope that I am wrong and look forward to hearing about the efforts made to conserve throughout the organization.

Diane Riley, MD
Norwich, Vt.

Editor’s response: Although the FSC logos are not displayed, AAOS Now, the Journal of the AAOS, and the Academy’s medical and scientific books are all printed on FSC-certified stock and at FSC-certified printing plants. The FSC, a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests, sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way, and the AAOS is an avid participant in this initiative.

It is not currently possible to print all AAOS publications on recycled stock. Despite improved technologies for refining postconsumer pulp, virgin fiber is still a significant requirement. Only 35 percent of current consumption is met with recycled fiber; approximately 25 percent of recovered fiber is exported. Approximately one fourth of the volume of timber cut annually in the United States is used for paper production, primarily from trees grown on farms established by paper companies specifically for the production of paper products.

AAOS patient education brochures and the Annual Meeting Daily Edition of AAOS Now are printed on recycled stock containing 10 percent to 35 per­cent postconsumer waste. Other “green” initiatives at the 2009 Annual Meeting include the following:

  • All collected trash was sent off-site for sorting and recycling.
  • All carpet from the exhibit halls that could not be cleaned and reused was recycled.
  • All Instructional Course handouts were printed locally and double-sided.
  • Exhibitors were asked to minimize shipments and encouraged to donate or recycle booth materials after the meeting.
  • All shipping from Rosemont, Ill., to the Annual Meeting was handled by a shipper participating in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to increase energy efficiency.
  • All leftover or unused food was donated to local missions; food items not suitable for donation to missions were donated to a local farm for animal feed.

We applaud Dr. Riley for supporting the Academy’s green efforts by recycling AAOS Now after she finishes reading it. Unlike computer equipment and cell phones, paper is 100 percent biodegradable, but the only way to recover the fiber from printed materials is by putting it through the recycling process.

AAOS Now welcomes reader comments and efforts to “set Now straight.” We reserve the right to edit your correspondence for length, clarity, or style. Send your letters to the Editor, AAOS Now, 6300 N. River Rd., Rosemont, IL, 60018; fax them to (847) 823-8033; or e-mail them to aaoscomm@aaos.org