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Paper or Electronics? Look at the Facts

Paper or Electronics? Look at the Facts

in Green Matters

from: B2B

There’s a lot of talk these days about going green and what you can do in your business to practice sustainability. One of the frequently talked about comparisons involves that of the use of paper versus the use of electronic devices. One way to examine this is to look at the use of raw materials used in the making of each. Consider the following found on International Paper Company’s website:

Paper: One of the great things about paper is that its primary raw materials are renewable. The paper and forest products industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forests by planting 1.7 million trees every single day, more than three times what is harvested. The U.S. Dept. of Energy has stated that the carbon sequestered on forested lands in 2006 was greater than the carbon released from harvesting wood over the same period.

Electronic: Making a computer typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, including gold, silver and palladium, as well as the extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. The lifespan of a computer is short, and electronics have become the fastest growing waste stream in the world.

Whether we email or send a letter, we consume energy and resources. There is no simple right answer. The ultimate question is not electronics or paper, but what combination of these has the least total impact on our environment.