Is Paper Usage in Decline?
With the rise of the electronic era at the latter end of the 20th Century, you may think the age of paper usage in decline.
But have we reduced our paper consumption since the invention of computers? Or are we using more paper than ever before?
In the 1970’s with the advent of the office computer, it was predicted we’d be paper free as we entered the 21st Century. We’re still a long way off in reality. Most offices have reduced their paper consumption by around 20%. We now have the power to give people the choice about printouts by offering a version of the document online or via digi catalogue. Think about your office supplies catalogue. Do you need a hard copy? Or could you search online for what you’re looking for?
With more of us choosing to catch up with the news on our phones or tablets and going paperless with their bills and cancelling junk mail, are we using less paper in general?
We’re still a long way off!
In fact, the demand for paper products is expected to be higher. By 2020, the paper production section is expected to have increased outputs by 77% when compared to 1995 numbers. The average office worker still uses around 10,000 sheets of paper per year with schools and offices those using the most paper.
We love paper
One of the major reasons that we’ve not quite achieved a paperless office is that people in general like something tangible. That’s why 65% of contracts are still signed on paper rather than electronically.
In a meeting, we continue to take notes on paper, despite the alternatives of a tablet and electronic pen. Providing staff with a tablet for notetaking is simply not financially achievable for many businesses. We also still all love a personal handwritten note. Notes are along the same lines as receiving a greetings card. Worldwide we send 7 billion greetings cards annually to our loved ones. The market for handmade and personalised cards is continually on the rise. Paper gives us something to hold onto, look at and cherish.
Printing can be Green
You may think that printing is the less environmentally friendly option compared with sending an email. Not necessarily. Email actually has a large carbon footprint in terms of the energy used to send and receive. An incredible 62 trillion spam emails are sent worldwide per year, using 30bn kilowatt hours of electricity! Most of the electricity used is from reading, deleting or sorting through spam.
Replenishing precious resources
In general, the paper industry is sustainable. For every tree harvested, 3 are planted in its place. The more wood used to cut down trees sends a signal that more trees should be planted. Unfortunately though, in many places throughout the globe, ancient trees are felled for paper production, or land cleared to make way for faster growing evergreens.
Manufacturing recycled paper
Not only does manufacturing recycled paper save energy costs, it also saves water usage too, not to mention the energy used to fell trees, fuel from trucks and landfill space. Making virgin paper pollutes the environment. Paper mills use harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and methanol in the production process. It’s true that creating recycled paper uses fewer virgin products, it does still take energy to produce the paper.