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How Environmentally Sustainable is Your 5e Dungeons and Dragons Book?

Unicorns, elves, pixies, sprites, and treants just some of the many and varied creatures that flesh out and live within the natural worlds portrayed by Dungeons and Dragons. Endless forests, clear rivers, majestic mountains and untamed wilderness are hallmarks of imaginary worlds,

In Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden environmental catastrophe is at hand due to magic but in the real world just how environmentally sustainable are the Dungeons and Dragons books I have been purchasing for the last 5 years, and what can a consumer (in this case me), easily find out to determine how sustainably sourced and produced is my Dungeons and Dragons book?

In many books the first page or credits section will often state the place where the book was printed and sometimes indicate whether the paper is certified as sustainably sourced. The most common certifications are FSCTM (Forest Stewardship Council ) and PEFCTM (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). The free alternative is to include a comment that the paper is 100% recycled or some variant (e.g. 30% virgin 70% recycled paper).

In case you didn’t know – paper comes from trees. There are not many trees in Icewind Dale – I wonder if they were cut down to make my adventure book?

In the recently released 1st printing of Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden the information provided indicates that the book is printed in the USA and was manufactured by Hasbro SA, Rue Emile-Boechat 31, 2800 Delemont, CH. But there no mention of what type of paper or materials the book is made from. Neither do the 1st printings of Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Ebberon Rising From the Last War, or Players Handbook answer this question.

..didn’t seam to discuss paper sustainability..

The book does contain the CE marking which is a mark that signifies the product has conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area. Whilst I am most certainly a novice in this area my guess is this marking was obtained for the toy category and the directive I could find for this didn’t seam to discuss paper sustainability in a way that would be simple for the average purchaser to determine how sustainable the book is.

Okay, so no answer in the book for the average consumer. Well then how about the Wizards of the Coast website and their corporate values?

Hmmmm….: inclusivity, community, collaboration, excellence, empowerment, fun and stewardship – hey stewardship looks promising they have a tree picture! – nope not very enlightening on the environment at all.

Hey Wizards! How about including a bit more about the environmental sustainability of my water in your Values please? Would the odds improve if I were a dog called Milo?

Hasbro

Well – as Wizards is a Hasbro owned company perhaps they have some material that might help with a guess – and indeed they do on their corporate and socially responsible page. This information might be the best we have as Hasbro is listed as the manufacturer of Rime of the Frostmaiden.

Delving into their website I was able to find their 2016 Corporate Social Responsibility Report and within that a reference to Hasbro having a Paper and Forest Procurement Policy which is (as best I can tell) still current.

The Policy States:

  • Hasbro expects all suppliers of forest products to demonstrate compliance with all applicable international and national legal requirements for forest management, harvest, manufacturing and trade.
     
  • If a supplier is sourcing wood products from areas determined to be high risk for illegal forest management practices and trade, third party verification of legality shall be obtained. Credible certification may also provide a means for Verification of Legality.
     
  • Over time, Hasbro expects its suppliers to become credibly certified and supply credibly certified wood products. If credibly certified wood products are not available, as an interim measure, suppliers must maintain chain of custody documentation of the origin of wood products and must continue to do so until credibly certified supplies are developed. We reserve the right at any time to request Verification of Legality.
     
  • No sources of Mixed Tropical Hardwood (MTH) virgin fiber shall be used in Hasbro products, including packaging. However, it is recognized that some MTH fiber may be present in recycled paper which is acceptable under the terms of this policy.
     
  • Forest products that originate from High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) shall not be purchased unless these operations are credibly certified.
     
  • Forest products that originate from Controversial Sources shall not be purchased.
     
  • Forest products that are manufactured without chlorine are preferred (e.g., “processed chlorine free” or PCF for recycled products or “totally chlorine free” or TCF for virgin products).
     
  • Hasbro expects suppliers to source recycled paper with as much post-consumer recycled content as practical and viable. A minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content is preferred.
     
  • Hasbro will conduct audits in the form of random testing of paper from high risk regions to ensure compliance with policy requirements. The supply chain review will follow the guidelines set by The Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) Guide to Legal and Responsible Sourcing. If a supplier is not in compliance with any applicable provisions of this policy, Hasbro will take appropriate corrective action to address such non-compliance, up to and including termination.
     
  • Hasbro will publicly report bi-annually on progress made to achieve goals under this policy, including a break-down of sustainable fiber types based on testing conducted under this policy. Additionally, we will regularly review this policy and targets to ensure it is appropriately updated to reflect any material changes in sustainable forest management.
     
  • and Hasbro has a target of At least 90 percent of paperboard packaging and in-box game content will be derived from recycled material or sources that practice sustainable forest management

This wording means it could be anything from zero to 100%

This wording means your 5e Dungeons and Dragons book (if it is printed by them) could be anything from zero to 100%, but Hasbro has specified a preference for at least 30% recycled content target so I doubt its less than that. Hasbro is explicit that any virgin wood fibre contains no mixed tropical hardwood virgin content and any wood from a High Conservation Value Forest – which is excellent.

I noted the Policy states that: Hasbro will publicly report bi-annually on progress made to achieve goals under this policy, including a break-down of sustainable fibre types based on testing conducted under this policy. Additionally, we will regularly review this policy and targets to ensure it is appropriately updated to reflect any material changes in sustainable forest management.

I was unable to locate such an update in the CSR section on how Hasbro was going with this policy but their CSR highlights for 2019 states that 90% of paper packaging and inbox content from recycled material of from sources that practice sustainable forest management (which is pretty broad as highlights of complex topics are want to do). Perhaps this wasn’t investigated in detail as Hasbro’s 2019 Annual Report (page 10) indicates that all their inhouse printing capabilities were outsourced to China or in the US to Cartamundi whose website confirmed they are a printer for Wizards of the Coasts – cash maker – Magic the Gathering. Sadly I was unable to find anything on the paper they use on Cartamundi’s website.

…I have failed to Exactly determine what TYPE OF paper is being used…

It could also be that I am crap at finding stuff – but this exercise is all about determining if a purchaser of a Dungeons and Dragons 5e book can easily find out if they are buying a sustainably made book. In this regard I have failed to exactly determine what type paper is being used in the book and therefore how sustainable the pages in the book are, but there is a good chance that it has been sustainably sourced paper and contains at least 30% recycled content.

Greenhouse emissions

Hasbro provides information on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In their 2019 Report Hasbro reports they have offset 100% of all greenhouse gas emission but its 99% on the CSR highlights page.

…but its not the same as 100% renewable and sustainable ENERGY which is ZERO Emission.

Interestingly it appears they are allowed to count the burning of landfill gas as a CO2 offset. As a person currently working within the waste industry and with landfills – burning landfill gas is a good outcome compared to allowing it to escape to atmosphere as methane is a really bad greenhouse gas but its not the same as 100% renewable and sustainable energy which is zero emission.

Longer term it would be nice to see their Climate Change Commitment Policy amended to exclude the burning of fuels as an allowable offset and instead rely solely upon renewable energy sources including: wind, solar, wave energy, and sustainable hydro.

In 2020 solar is cheaper than coal energy but in Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden there is no sun to make it work.

the answer is I couldn’t….

Hasbro provides more information on environmentally sustainability (water) and human rights and ethical sourcing (which is also important – although the list of suppliers on their website is nearly two years old) but this was the point which I got tired of searching and the aim of the exercise was to determine if the average consumer (me) could easily find out if my 5e Dungeons and Dragons book was sustainably produced and the answer is I couldn’t determine this. Despite this I feel confident to conclude that Wizards of the Coast or Hasbro probably have made an effort to achieve an environmentally sustainable book for me to purchase.

Room for improvement

All businesses, organisations and individuals (yes me too) eventually discover gaps and oversights where they need to improve. Resources and time are finite necessitating focus on some areas until a need necessitate a change of focus.

In an era when sustainability is important I think it would be appropriate for Wizards of the Coast to improve the transparency around how sustainable their products are to consumers like me who aren’t rouge inquisitives in real life – it would probably make a good Dragon Talk podcast episode provided its not too corporate in its delivery.

In summary, I would guess that the boxes of Lost Mine of Phandelver and the Essential Kit and the covers of the Dungeons and Dragons hardback adventures are likely to contain a higher percentage of recycled content as they are packaging (possibly 90%). When it comes to the pages of the books I am less certain – my best guess would be the pages are at least 30% recycled paper and there to be zero net emissions of greenhouse gases in production and transport.

There is room for improvement in energy sourcing as they are not a zero emissions operation business but what they have achieved is pragmatic and zero emissions is a lofty goal.

Our planet will need powerful magic or tender care by individuals and corporations if we intend it to survive.

Hopefully the future printings of Dungeons and Dragons books will include more information on the composition of the paper, ink, and paper source and the Wizards of the Coast website provides more detailed information on the sustainability of their products (Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering). I would be delighted to know if the lab grown sapphire for their sapphire die was done for environmental reasons or not?

Placeholder in advance: Hopefully a link can be added here to simple to understand information on the sustainability of Dungeons and Dragons products after this article was written – that would be great!

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How Environmentally Sustainable is Your 5e Dungeons and Dragons Book?

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Unicorns, elves, pixies, sprites, and treants just some of the many and varied creatures that flesh out and live within the natural...