The Paper Industry Fights Back

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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.

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