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IP Says Paper is Greener than Computers

ipbrochure1International Paper has added a new brochure to its Down to Earth environmental series, “Pixels vs. Paper: Are pixels greener than paper?” which takes the stance that paper is friendlier to the environment than electronic devices.

Some of IP’s key findings in the comparison between paper and computers include:

– The amount of electricity to run a computer for only five months could produce enough paper for the average person to use for an entire year.

– Twenty percent less CO2 is used per year by a person reading a daily printed newspaper versus a person reading web-based news for 30 minutes a day.

– Paper is biodegradable and nearly 60 percent of all paper in the U.S. is recycled.

– Only 18 percent of all electronic devices are currently recycled and e-waste constitutes the single largest waste export in the U.S.

– Paper comes from a renewable and sustainable source — trees, while electronic devices are typically made of plastics and other non-renewable resources and chemicals and metals. IP says every day the paper and forest products industry plants more than three times the number of trees than are harvested.

IP could have a tough sell on its hands. Research from DMNews and Pitney Bowes, for example, has found that 48 percent of the U.S. population believe that mail is half of the content in the nation’s landfills. Mail, according to the report, actually makes up two percent of the nation’s municipal waste.

So while direct marketers and those working in other paper-intensive industries might be convinced on the “paper vs pixels” debate, consumer perception, which, in the case of marketing, dictates whether a company will ultimately choose paper or pixels, could lag behind.

    International Paper also has expanded its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody certification to include a majority of its U.S. pulp and paper mills and a number of converting facilities across its businesses. IP says the increase establishes the company as having the largest FSC manufacturing platform across the globe.

    IP’s FSC Chain-of-Custody certification worldwide now includes: three coated paperboard mills and its six converting facilities; four pulp operations; six industrial packaging mills; seven printing papers mills and its sheeting operations; and a number of manufacturing facilities associated with its foodservice and Shorewood businesses.

    Chain-of-Custody certification guarantees that wood coming from certified and responsibly managed forestlands is tracked throughout the supply chain, from the forest to the consumer.

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    5 thoughts on “IP Says Paper is Greener than Computers

    1. not a very convincing argument, at least as framed here. What about the resources involved in manufacturing and shipping additional printers? Cartridges? The electricity powering them? This makes it sound like IP expected that we were printing and writing on our computers (literally) instead of paper. It’s a liiiitle more complicated than that…

    2. I cannot help but think that productivity vs energy required is a formula that needs considering. Imagine if we did all the messaging we do today by mail?

    3. Yes, Daniel, I agree, it is a liiiitle bit more complicated than that, because they’re not just talking about personal desktop printing as you and Jules are suggesting, they’re talking about large-scale printing too: the printing of newspapers, brochures, books, booklets, annual reports etc etc etc, which people are increasingly encouraged to use view online rather than in hard copy format. I think you both need to consider yuor arguments a little more.

    4. It all comes down to the fact that people need to be more responsible. Instead of crying about the paper in landfills; start recycling. Stop being lazy and separate your “trash” to recycle. That’s as simple as it gets. If we continue to cut out printed publications, imagine how many jobs you’re cutting out – I used to work as a desktop publisher and my father actually works for International Paper, now I work for the United States Postal Service. Paper is the source of our income. So if people would be more responisble by recycling we can all hold on to our jobs. 🙂 Sorry if this is all jumbled up – I’m half asleep with no coffee.

    5. I have been wondering for a long time when a comprehensive study of this issue will happen. I am a graphic designer and rely heavily on both print and pixels. My studio runs 5 computers which are on for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week + 2 printers which are only turned on when required. While we turn everything off at the mains each night and generate half our power by solar, and recycle hardware when it becomes obsolete, I still don’t know if our pixel consumption, and the work we produce for clients and their end consumer is more enviro friendly (eg. a website) than a printed brochure. The data centre we use for hosting all our clients websites consumes a huge amount of resources, both in power and hardware, and then there is the end user consumption added on top of this.

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