There is power in print — it cuts through the digital clutter and can be extremely personalized. But, print is also environmentally conscious. There have been multiple reports and studies shared over the past few years regarding print’s environmental footprint. Today, we’d like to share some of the results of these various studies.
One of the popular myths about the production of paper is that harvesting trees to create paper is bad because it reduces the amount of tree and forest coverage. In fact, in the United States, more trees are planted annually than are harvested for production — and the paper industry is largely responsible for the number of trees that are replanted. As long as the demand for paper stays high, tree farmers will continue to nurture and harvest their land instead of selling their land to developers. Additionally, tree farmers will replant three trees for every one tree harvested.
Unfortunately, if the demand drops, around 20 million acres – or 2.7 percent of our nation’s forests – can be expected to be lost in the next 50 years due to the development of the land rather than harvesting the trees for production (Source.) In addition, of the trees harvested for production, only 11 percent are used for producing paper.
Furthermore, the paper and print industry use about 60 percent renewable and recycled energy and products in the production of paper — most U.S. industries use only about 10 percent renewable resources and energy. Print and paper have a one-time carbon footprint, but digital media has a continuous carbon footprint, every time a computer is turned on or a tablet is used, digital technology’s environmental footprint continues to climb higher. In fact, Americans produce around 3.16 million tons of electronic waste on average annually and with the growth of digital technology, this average is expected to grow.
Both print and digital media will leave an environmental impact, it’s important that we, as the consumers of both print and digital, ensure that we recycle paper, power down our phones and laptops when not in use and conserve energy to ensure we reduce our carbon footprints on the earth.
Print & Graphic Communications Association