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The Paper Industry Fights Back

In today’s marketing world, the paper industry is seen as the big, bad guy — the energy hogging, landfill-clogging waste producer that needs to be replaced by cleaner, more efficient electronic media. But is this really the case? The paper industry claims that the opposite is true. It points out that electronic media are huge consumers of energy, and when you consider that the paper industry is one of the largest consumers of clean energy like wind power, the tables may actually be turned.

In a recent publication, “Pixels or Paper?”, International Paper wrote:

Our industry is one of the biggest users of renewable, low-carbon energy in the world. Sixty percent of the energy used to make paper in the U.S. comes from carbon-neutral renewable resources and is produce on site at mills. In addition, these facilities use combined heat and power (CHP) generation systems, which are 80-90% efficient. Fossil fuel use and purchased energy in this industry is steadily decreasing.

Taking only the servers that power the Internet as a comparison, the electronics industry uses more than 90% fossil fuels purchased off the grid, which are greenhouse gas emitting. The conventional power-generation systems used are only 45-60% efficient. And the consumption rate for data centers in the U.S. alone doubled from 2005-2006 and is set to double again in 2010.

Here’s another interesting statistic:

On average, it takes 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce 440 lbs. of paper, the typical amount of paper each of us consumes annually. that’s the equivalent of powering one computer continuously for five months.

Makes you want to reconsider the e-media / traditional media balance a bit, doesn’t it?

To download a copy of the full International Paper white paper on this topic, click here.

Like this post? See all my “Greening Print Marketing” posts.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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