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December 17, 2023

Green Balance: Navigating Print and Digital Environmental Impact

Taking a closer look at the eco-friendly dance between paper and digital world, ‘Green Balance’ invites us to think about how these choices affect the environment. In this article, let’s explore the environmental impact of both, trying to understand how our media habits fit into the bigger picture of sustainability.

Print’s Green Evolution

Contrary to the prevailing notion that digital is “greener”, the print industry has made significant strides in reducing its environmental footprint. Between 1990 and 2019, carbon emissions in the paper sector decreased by an impressive 48%1.

Notably, the paper, pulp and print sector is now among the lowest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases, accounting for 0.8% of European emissions2. A remarkable 71.4% recycling rate for European paper and paperboard in 2022 also further demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability3.

The Environmental Impact of Digitalisation

On the other side, digital convenience comes with its own set of environmental challenges. The carbon footprint of a standard email, calculated by environmental expert Mike Berners-Lee, reaches up to 26g of CO2, escalating to 50g with attachments4. Digitalisation’s substantial 4% share in greenhouse gas emissions5 raises questions about the environmental benefits of a fully digital approach when compared to 0.8%2 contributed by print and paper sector.

Striking A Balance

In the quest for a sustainable and eco-conscious future, the emphasis shifts toward striking a balance between the benefits of digital communication and the environmentally conscious practices of the print industry. Instead of avoiding either print or digital altogether, where print is required, we should focus on responsible practices, such as using papers which are sourced from certified sustainably managed forests when printing is necessary.

If you are looking  for sustainably-sourced printing materials, click here or contact us for a quick introduction session!

  1. Cepi, Energy & Climate 2021
  2. European Environment Agency, Annual European Union Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2018, 2020
  4. 2021, The Carbon Footprint Of Everything, Mike Berners-Lee 

#paperstillmatters #printinspirestrust #sustainability #smallstepsbigimpact