Going paperless is not as green as you think

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paperlessSome would argue that making paper is indeed bad for the environment and that by going paperless you have made the “Green” choice. In truth most of the energy used in paper production is renewable and carbon intensity is surprisingly low. Many companies have mistakenly believed that by going paperless means going green which has become known as “Green Washing”.

As mentioned in our previous blogs, paper is the probably the most recyclable raw material and is naturally and rapidly biodegradable.

There are very few processes that do not have a carbon foot print in the modern world and electronic waste is no exception to this. There are environmental impacts for both print and electronic media and here are some facts about both:

  • One email with a 400k attachment sent to 20 people is equivalent to burning a 100W light bulb for 20 minutes.
  • Reading a newspaper can consume 20% less carbon than viewing news online

However, with 1.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the value chain of pulp, paper and print is one of the lowest industrial emitters. Mail comprises 0.1% of total household emissions in Europe. These 14kg of CO2 are the equivalent of

  • One 70km car journey
  • Five cheese burgers
  • Nine litres of milk
  • 6.6 minutes of transatlantic flight.
  • It takes 500 kilowatt hours to produce 200kg of paper; the average consumption per head.
  • This is comparable to driving an average family car 600 miles.

We would like to thank Two sides and Green Print for their wealth of information on this topic.