Printing Is Unsustainable…April Fools! 5 Myths About Print and Sustainability Busted

by Tim English - VP Superior Business Solutions on April 1, 2014

green-grass-and-paper-cornerPaper Is a Renewable Resource!

Paper has been an important part of communication and culture across the world for an impressively long time, and it’s still an indispensable resource in today’s society. “Paper is made from renewable resources, and responsibly produced and used paper has many advantages over other, nonrenewable alternative materials” (World Wildlife Fund).

In a recent whitepaper, TwoSides.com busted some of the biggest myths about print and print sustainability, saying in their article, “As awareness and interest in environmental issues have increased over the last couple of decades, so have misconceptions about the sustainability of print media.”

Superior Business Solutions has come along to help pass that news on and bust some of those misconceptions. Here are our 5 myths about print sustainability and the truths behind them:

Myth 1: Paper Is Wasteful

Print is actually highly sustainable with today’s recycling technologies and recycling itself is growing in popularity. Recycling is a closed loop against wastefulness, and as long as awareness continues to be increased and more people take the time to recycle, that sustainability will continue to thrive. As we continue to limit the elimination of print and paper products in landfills, paper will only continue to become more sustainable than ever.

Myth 2: Print Is Destroying Forests

The sad truth behind this myth is that there is still considerable deforestation in many regions of the world, but 90% of that is a result of unsustainable agriculture practices, not from using trees to make paper. Many countries including the U.S. and much of Western Europe are actively growing new trees to replace the resources they use for paper and other products. And the fact is that paper production actually supports sustainable forest management as forest management practices continue to develop.

Myth 3: Creating Paper Consumes Too Much Energy

This is a true statement, but it’s misleading because it’s not a complete statement. The fact is that making paper does consume energy. Of course it does. But the energy used is renewable. “Nearly two-thirds of the energy used by U.S. pulp and paper mills is self-generated using renewable carbon-neutral biomass,” says Two Sides’ “Print and Paper whitepaper. This is a much more environmentally friendly energy source than the burning of fossil fuels.

Myth 4: Paper has a High Carbon Footprint

This is the myth that tricks almost everyone. In an effort to be more environmentally aware, a few presuppositions have arisen that lead us to believe things that are just untrue. Paper doesn’t have such a high carbon footprint as you might think. According to this Two Sides article, the pulp, paper, and print is one of the lowest industrial emitters, production 1.0% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the paper industry is the biggest user of renewable, low carbon energy. How’s that for a wildly far-fetched myth?

Myth 5: Electronic Communication is More Environmentally Stable

A lot of people don’t realize the impact that electricity or e-media has on the environment, and it’s not all that surprising given that the fad of the decade stems from the slogan, “Go paperless.” This slogan treads on the one virtue that everyone would agree on today: The best answer never focuses on one single characteristic of a problem. Don’t leave this page thinking that companies should only use paper. There’s a healthy combination to best meet economic needs, and researchers have been working to find it. The KTH Center for Sustainable Communications reported, “With a reading time of 30 minutes/day the environmental impact of the web based newspaper was in general in the same range as the printed newspaper environmental impact.”

Print is Sustainable and Here to Stay

Businesses that want to make responsible environmental developments should base their choices on factual and well-researched information. Don’t believe everything you hear. The print industry is good for marketing, it’s here to stay, and it is sustainable.

If you have any questions or comments to add, you are welcome to join the sustainable print discussion in our comments below.


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