By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing
If you will pardon the unintended pun, paper has been getting a lot of bad press over the last few years. You know the sort of thing I mean – “Please don’t print out this email – think of the environment.” and explanations by the activists of the amount of energy consumed in the production of each sheet of paper.
We have seen the rise of e-books and the demise of newspapers, and in the background there has always been the implication that we are being selfish and detrimental to the environment if we keep chopping down trees and turning them into paper.
Of course like all serious arguments there are two sides to the story and if you will pardon another unintended pun, the organisation Two Sides, a global initiative by the paper and pulp industries to promote the sustainability arguments about paper, has recently published a series of fact sheets which highlight the various counter arguments. The comprehensive fact sheets cover the most common areas of misunderstanding, ranging from the real environmental impact of electronic communication, to the sustainability of paper-based printed products, as well as tackling the important role that print and paper plays in literacy and learning.
They are worth taking a look at and some surprising facts are revealed. For example the “Go paperless” marketing messages ignore the fact that paper is a renewable resource and is one of the most recycled materials in Europe.
The paper industry contributes around 1% of the World’s carbon dioxide emissions, while the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector is currently contributing 2% of the global greenhouse gas emissions – roughly the same as the airline industry and this is a figure which is due to double by 2020.
Paper is one of the most recycled commodities in the USA and Europe, with between 60% and 72% recovered and recycled very year. Newspapers use a remarkable 97% recycled materials and packaging is another big recycled-user at 75%.
In the education sector a number of well-respected academic writers have commented on the importance of the use of paper in classrooms and how children remember more detail from texts they have read on paper than in e-books.
There are a lot more facts and figures in the Two Sides publication that merit closer examination and you can download your own version here http://www.twosides.info/fact-sheets but make sure you print it out to read it!
The Importance of Paper and Printing to National Economies
All of these arguments would be academic if it weren’t for the importance of the printing and graphic arts industry. In Europe 121,000 companies employing some 714,000 people are contributing €88 billion of revenues to the GDP of their respective national economies.
The good news about the paper and printing industry
Despite recent failures the paper industry is worth around €75 billion to the European economy. So perhaps it’s time for those of us who make our living with paper to fight back and include the following tagline on your email signature “Please feel free to print this email. Paper is a fully sustainable and recyclable product.”
Lobby image: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/magazine-pile-4018587.jpg
Main page image: http://www.printgrowstrees.org/index.html