The Great Green Debate of the Printing Industry

By on December 5th, 2012

Being at Graph Expo this year, I was interested to see how big of a topic environmental sustainability was. So many industry-leading printing equipment manufacturers were eager to demonstrate their environmentally responsible solutions. The industry has come under pressure in recent years as the growing trend to go “paperless” takes off. But what I was surprised to learn, and I’m hoping many others will be too, is that a number of myths exist regarding the sustainability of paper and the printing industry. Thanks to information I picked up in one booth from Two Sides (www.twosides.us), I engaged in my own version of myth-busters and would like to share the same with you.

Myth: Making paper destroys forests.
Fact: Paper production supports sustainable forest management and depends on sustainable forest growth to provide a reliable supple of wood fiber.

Myth: Making paper is bad for the environment.
Fact: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products because it is made from a natural resource that is renewable and recyclable. Furthermore, paper is one of the most recycled products in the world.

Myth: Making paper consumes a considerable amount of energy.
Fact: While this true, nearly 2/3 of the energy used is self-generated using renewable carbon-neutral biomass. Most U.S. pulp and paper mills are self-sufficient and some even supply excess energy to the electric utility grid.

Myth: Harvesting trees to make paper is bad.
Fact: Sustainable forest management can actually benefit people and the planet by supporting jobs and reducing development.

Myth: Electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than print and paper.
Fact: This is not necessarily true as online media also has environmental impacts which are easily underestimated. Electronic products have a lifecycle including depending on energy and managing end-of-life products which also has an environmental footprint. This seems like an especially important tidbit of information for print shop owners to share with customers.

These are just a few of the myths Two Sides debunked for me. On a whole, it seems like encouraging information for our industry and worthy of sharing on a larger scale. If you’re interested in learning more, I definitely recommend checking out the Two Sides website and learning more. They do a great job of formally researching and presenting data to support all of these claims.

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