e-communications misconceptions

Is electronic communication more environmentally friendly than print?

  • In Europe and the U.S. around 60% of energy used to make paper comes from renewable resources. (Carbon & Energy Reduction, Print City, 2010)
  • Adverse health effects from producing an e-reader are 70 times worse than producing a book. (Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris, “How Green Is My iPad,” The New York Times)
  • CO2 emissions from making a CD are 4 times higher than from printing a 100 page, 4-color annual report. (ED #13, Balance, NewPage)
  • In 2008, Americans generated 3.16 million tons of electronic waste. (EPS, MSW 2008 data)
  • Electronic devices typically require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources.
  • 50-80% of electronic waste collected for recycling is shipped overseas and often unsafely dismantled. (Facts and Figures on E-Waste and Recycling, Electronics Take Back Coalition)
  • Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint – all other media require energy every time they are viewed. (2010 PrintCity report on Carbon and Energy)
  • As new research emerges, it is clear that “either/or” is not the answer. One must consider all the inputs and outputs before making a decision about which communications are better delivered electronically or on paper. By linking the power of paper with the efficiency of electronics, we can streamline our communications and help maintain the best environmental balance possible. (International Paper, Go Paper, Grow Trees website)

Successful communication
uses a mix of media.