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environment, Packaging, Printing and Fulfilment, Marketing

Print, paper and being an environmental superhero

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
May 5 2016,
updated
July 13 2020

We get a bad rap. All of us across the printing, mailing, packaging and paper industries. Let’s call us “printers” as a catch-all. You wouldn't have to go too far, or look too hard, to find accusations of a) the damage printers are doing to the environment b) our impact on the planet or c) our single-handed responsibility for elimination of the rainforests.

Trouble is, it's simply not true. We’ve not been very good though at blowing our own collective trumpet, or speaking out to set the record straight.

So, you might be surprised…

to learn that, far from causing damage, paper and print actually does the opposite:

  • Over 80% of the wood pulp needed to make paper originates from Europe’s forests and these have grown by over 30% since 1950
  • These forests continue to increase by an area equivalent to more than 1.5 million football pitches EVERY YEAR
  • They removed 870 million tonnes of CO2 ( around 10% of the continent’s total greenhouse gas emissions) between 2005 and 2010.
  • Paper manufacturing requires only 11% of the world’s wood harvest, and most of the energy needed comes from renewable sources.
  • The value chain of pulp/paper/print is one of the lowest (1.1%) industrial greenhouse gas emitters in the world
  • When wood pulp is turned into paper, the CO2 it contains remains trapped within the paper, just as it does when paper is recycled
  • And paper is one of the most recycled products in the world!

You don't have to take our word for it…

Jonathan Porritt CBE, former director of Friends of the Earth, ex-Chairman UK Sustainability Development Commission and founder Forum for the Future, knows a thing or two about sustainability and “green”. He says,

“There aren't many industries around that can aspire to becoming genuinely sustainable. The paper industry however is one of them; it is inherently sustainable."

Beware the “greenwashing”!

Heard of greenwashing? Greenwash is an environmental claim which is unsubstantiated or irrelevant. It's often used to sell the benefits of paperless and to convert consumers away from printed materials such as bills or statements. But Shamel Naguib, president at Paperless Productivity a business that helps organisations looking to reduce or eliminate their paper documents by going electronic, says,

"For 99.9% of projects, the green initiative has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with saving money."

Environmental superheroes?

While we don't don capes, change in a phone box, or wear our underpants over our trousers - at least not on a weekday - we’re doing our bit (and more) to minimise our own, and our customers’ impact on the environment. You can check out our certified credentials here primegroup.co.uk/iso-14001-9001. ISO credentials that critically mean we don't rest on our laurels, as ongoing and continuous improvement of what we do is a must. Improvements like committing to work with sound suppliers and materials such as Revive, the carbon balanced paper from Denmaur www.printbusiness.co.uk

If you'd like to learn more about print and paper there's plenty more facts here twosides.info - see, we’re not the “bad guys” after all!

May 9th 2016
The New Myths and Facts Booklet Launches
The NEW Myths and Facts booklet is one of the key resources of the Two Sides campaign. The booklet addresses common Myths about print and paper and dispels those Myths with verifiable Facts.

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