Paperless society – What if our forests just can’t give us enough paper?

20 07 2008

A Green Printer dispatch.

Mandy Haggith with the ‘paper mountain’ she built to show what a year’s waste looks like. Photo by Angus Bruce, The Independent.

“The paperless-society goal is a very nice and noble one,” said Arpad Horvath, an associate professor at the University of California-Berkeley who has studied the issue of replacing paper with wireless technologies. “Unfortunately, I don’t see any trace of progress toward it.”A recent article, Paper, paper everywhere, even in a digital world by Troy Wolverton, points out that:

“For all the wonders of electronic documents, paper still retains some advantages, analysts note. Particularly for older people, paper is much easier to read than a computer monitor. Many people find it easier to digest longer documents in printed form, rather than on a screen. And paper is a lot more portable than a mobile device.”

And, to take paper consumption a step further, with all the talk about buying post-consumer waste paper in order to reduce deforestation and CO2, it’s not clear whether forests can sustainably provide wood, paper and transportation fuel in the coming years. That is what a report, Trees in the Greenhouse: Why Climate Change Is Transforming the Forest Products Business, released by the World Resources Institute (WRI), stated in June 2008.

In fact, IDC, a market research firm, estimates that American printers or multifunction devices churned out 1.53 trillion pages last year, a total that it expects to rise to 1.64 trillion by 2010.

And that is a lot of trees.

On the flip side, the threat of receding forests (disappearing faster than you can say Forest Stewardship Council-certified), combined with efforts to address climate change, “presents a potentially game-changing opportunity for the forest products industry.”

Key opportunities, according to the WRI report, include:

  • New markets and products
  • Competitive advantages in relation to carbon-intensive substitute material
  • Enhanced forest productivity
  • Increased demand for sustainable forest management

Over in the UK, Haggith, a veteran forest campaigner and the co-ordinator of the 21-member European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN) launched, Paper Trails, a book that shows our society’s obsession with paper, from its invention in China 2000 years ago to the millions of tonnes we now use every year. Haggith’s book tracks the devastation left behind by the production of the 12.5 million tons of paper consumed by the UK every year.

And, last month, the EEPN, with the combined force of Haggith and Canadian publisher, Cindy Connor, launched “Shrink“, an interactive website to help individuals and businesses make a pledge to cut their paper use and take action on a wider scale.

“Forget the Amazon,” says Haggith. “Russia and Canada, between them, hold 50 per cent of our vital forests. But where the Amazon can regenerate very quickly, these northern boreal forests take 200 years to re-grow.”

Green Printer’s eco-calculator, with sources from the Environmental Defense Fund, helps customers like Best-Western, ReMax, Lush and Aveda go – and stay – green. Green Printer carries attractive, eco-friendly and affordable recycled paper.


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One response to “Paperless society – What if our forests just can’t give us enough paper?”

28 07 2008
Gemini (01:24:44) :

There are other alternatives for making paper, like in Brazil they make paper out of the eucaliptus trees, the paper companies in Brazil they plant and harvest these trees, so actually they are not destroying the Amazon jungle to make paper its been destroyed for other reasons.

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