Print & Ecology

There are many misconceptions about the environmental friendliness of printed materials.

The not-for-profit organisation Two Sides is an initiative by companies from the graphic communications supply chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators.  Its mission is to promote the sustainability of the graphic communications supply chain and dispel common environmental misconceptions.  Some of the critical myths de-bunked by Two Side include:

Paper is NOT bad for the environment.  Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material. As young trees grow, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Furthermore, as a wood product, paper also continues to store carbon throughout its lifetime.  The paper industry has several respected certification schemes ensuring the paper used has been sourced from a sustainable forest. The two most recognisable certifications are the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC™).  Source:  Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products – Two Sides

Paper production is NOT a major cause of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. 

Paper production is NOT a major cause of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  Most of the energy used is renewable, and carbon intensity is surprisingly low.  The European pulp and paper industry produces original bio-based products using wood, a renewable material. It is also the biggest single industrial user and producer of renewable energy in the EU.  The environmental impact of personal paper consumption may not be as high as thought either. In Europe, we each use an average of 125kg of paper every year.  This amount of paper produces 84 kilograms of CO2, which equals driving about 500 miles in the average European car.  By buying paper from sustainably managed forests and always recycling, people do not have to feel guilty about using this natural and renewable product.  Source: The Myth: Paper production is a major greenhouse gas emitter (twosides.info)

European forests are NOT shrinking. Paper is a uniquely renewable and sustainable product. The primary raw material, trees, are grown and harvested in a carefully controlled and sustainable way.  So successfully that European forests, where most of the raw material comes from, have increased by an area of Switzerland’s size in just 10 years.  Source: The Myth: European Forests Are Shrinking (twosides.info)

Planted (managed) forests are NOT bad for the environment.   Natural forest accounts for 93% of the world’s forest area, with planted forest occupying 7%, or 290 million hectares. Well-managed planted forests reduce the pressure on natural forests by providing various forest goods and services.  Planted forests can be environmentally sound sources of renewable energy and industrial raw material.  Source: The Myth: Planted forests are bad for the environment (twosides.info)

Electronic Communication is NOT necessarily more environmentally friendly than paper-based communications.  Electronic communication also has environmental impacts

“Go Paperless”, “Go Green”, and “Save Trees” are common messages seen these days as many organisations encourage their customers to switch to electronic transactions and communications.  These messages give the impression that electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than traditional, paper-based communication. But it is very difficult to make such a statement without considering the entire lifetime of those different mediums. As already mentioned above, paper is a uniquely renewable and sustainable product.  The environmental impacts of an ever-increasing digital world cannot be ignored. The ICT industry accounts for around 2.5-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is predicted to rise to 14% by 2040.  Source:  The Myth: E-communication is better for the environment – Two Sides.