The Facts on Print and Sustainability


There are a few popular catchphrases being used in corporate offices and small businesses around the globe. They revolve around print and paper. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve recently heard them.

Reducing the carbon footprint. Being green. Going paperless. Saving a tree.

Print and paper have been the preferred communication medium for over 2,000 years, but still come under scrutiny for their perceived negative impact on the environment. By fostering a better understanding of our industry’s environmental practices, we’re positioning print and paper to continue as the communication medium of choice for tomorrow and beyond. Educating your customer on matters of print and sustainability can go a long way towards building new relationships and strengthening existing ones.

Below is a recap of some common print and paper myths and facts informed by Two Sides, a group promoting the sustainability of the graphic communications industry. Use this information to help you dispel misconceptions and promote the environmentally responsible practices within our industry.

Myth 1: Electronic Communications are More Environmentally Sustainable than Print 

There is a common perception that use of electronic devices is more environmentally responsible than the consumption paper, when the truth is that both uses have an impact. 

Everywhere you turn, you see tablets, mobile devices and e-readers. More emails flood your inbox than the amount of physical mail that is delivered to your mailbox.   

However, the environmental impact of electronic devices is often less discussed. According to the Printing Industries of America, CO2 emissions from making a CD are four times greater than from printing a 100 page, four-color annual report. 

The discarding of electronic devices, also known as e-waste, is a growing concern as well. A United Nations report found a 40 million ton per year global increase in e-waste. Meanwhile, the American Forest and Paper Association reported that 65% of paper in the U.S. was recycled in 2012, making it the most recycled commodity.

Myth 2: Print and Paper Is a Wasteful Product

Statements such as, “making paper destroys forests” and “print and paper are wasteful products” are oftentimes very misleading. 

According to Two Sides, more paper is recovered and recycled in the United States than any other material. 

In fact, more trees are grown than harvested, helping to sustain essentially the same amount of U.S. forestland over the last 100 years… despite the population tripling during the same period.

Myth 3: Encouraging People to “Go Green – Go Paperless” Is A Sound Environmental Practice

Marketing tactics that encourage consumers to ‘go paperless’ may be considered as greenwashing. 

Unsubstantiated claims disregard the environmental practices of print and paper, swaying consumers to believe that use of electronic devices are more ‘green’ in all situations.

Another report conducted by Two Sides found that more than eight in 10 consumers feel that the driving force behind ‘anti-paper’ marketing claims is not for environmental purposes, but rather so corporations can reduce costs associated with print and paper use. 

In many cases, these claims do not meet the guidelines outlined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for acceptable environmental marketing. As of January 2014, more than 20 leading U.S. companies have removed their anti-paper green claims, thanks in large part to the educational awareness generated by Two Sides. 

Share Post
You May Also Enjoy

Leave a Comment