Is Paperless Really Better?

Is paperless really better than the alternative? This is a question that seems to haunt many in the printing and paper manufacturing industries. While on the surface, digital seems to be a green solution, there are legitimate arguments being made by both sides in this debate about the value of eliminating printed bills and statements from banks, telephone companies, utilities, etc.

papersThis is not an editorial for either side, but merely a reminder that there is usually more to the story than the glamorous headlines we read/hear about the green movement. Consider the cost of producing, installing, and eventually disposing of solar panels compared to the clean energy they produce. It’s a similar situation when you debate printing vs. paperless alternatives, as represented in this article from The Guardian, which notes:

Paper has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Detractors claim paper manufacturing leads to mass deforestation and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. While paper supply chains could certainly use an overhaul, some of the arguments against using paper are just plain wrong.

“What people often don’t realize is that the paper-making process is sustainable, and claims to the contrary are misleading to the consumer,” said Mark Pitts , executive director of printing-writing, at the American Forest And Paper Association (AFANDPA).

The article includes a reference to a recent announcement by Two Sides, a a membership organization representing the paper and print industry. You can read the entire statement here, but the gist of their argument is this:

“We’re challenging the environmental claims around electronic versus paper, and our arguments are that many things are not considered, such as sustainable forestry practices or the fact that a lot of people print at home.”

I have been in the printing industry for 35 years, so it’s probably true that I am biased in favor of paper. Nevertheless, clients who know me, also know that I am always looking for ways to help them reduce or eliminate needless waste, and will offer green alternatives such as recycled paper whenever I can do so without making them incur additional expense.

We’d love to hear from you with feedback, questions, alternative opinions and perspectives on this issue. We love our planet, and want to make it a clean and safe environment for all. This is a conversation that should be ongoing, and we place great value on being part of the solution.

– Jeff, Jag Forms President

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