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Print & Paper: Myths & Facts


A preferred form of communication for more than 2,000 years, are print and paper being outpaced by digital in the popularity and sustainability arenas? Myths abound. Don’t fall for them.

Myth: Making Paper = Deforestation
Fact: Paper Production Supports Sustainable Forestry Practices

America’s paper industry depends on sustainable forest management for a reliable supply of wood fiber. Undeveloped forests are continually renewable, and far from finite as ‘go paperless – save trees’ claims imply. To this end, manufacturers that purchase certified wood fiber from sustainable forest management practices provide a dependable market for mindfully sourced products, encouraging the responsible management of forestland over clearing and non-forest development. In the past 60-years:

  • 89% of U.S. pulpwood harvested is from private land, producing income that encourages sustainable management.
  • Canada’s forest cover has remained stable for 20-years, with only 0.5% of forests harvested annually.

Myth: Paper is Bad for the Environment
Fact: Paper is a Rare, Truly Sustainable Gem

Paper is recycled more than any other commodity in North America. Renewable and recyclable, the U.S. and Canada grow far more wood than is harvested annually. Most paper is made from sawmill residues and recovered paper, with 36% and 13% of timber harvests used in the U.S. and Canada, respectively, for the manufacture of paper and paperboard annually. North American business and consumers can ensure sustainably-produced paper goods, buying responsibly and with confidence from:

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
  • International Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

Myth: Paper Production Has a High Carbon Footprint
Fact: The Carbon Footprint of Paper is Surprisingly Low

Trees not only provide oxygen, but wood (and paper) store carbon indefinitely, reducing greenhouse gas emissions long-term. Between 2011 and 2016, greenhouse gas emissions from the pulp and paper industry dropped 15%. One of the lowest industrial emitters, paper is manufactured using primarily renewable resources, such as biomass, bio-gas, and hydroelectricity, and was responsible for just 0.5% of total 2016 U.S. CO2 emissions.

Myth: Only Recycled Paper Should Be Used
Fact: Recycled Paper & New Wood Fibers are Both Essential

Paper can be recycled 7-times before fibers become too short/weak for use, making the continual supply of fresh fibers necessary. These fibers are often sourced from a main by-product of lumber production: Sawmill chips. Though the recycling and reuse of paper products makes sustainability sense, its success relies on 35-65% fresh wood fiber contribution (depending on paper grade). Just 6% of recycled paper products are put to use for printing/writing grade paper (82% goes to container/cardboard/packaging products and tissue). Without the inclusion of fresh fibers, paper production would come to a standstill in 6-18-months.

Myth: Print & Paper is Wasteful Fact: Paper is One of the Most Recycled Products Worldwide Paper is easily and commonly recycled. Based on 2013 statistics, 63.5% of paper in the U.S. was recycled, compared to 28% of glass and 9% of plastic, minimizing print and paper waste in landfills. As the years have progressed, the industry’s ability to recycle such paper has also improved.

Myth: Electronics Devices are Greener than Print & Paper
Fact: Electronic Devices also Impact the Environment

Eight-of-ten consumers believe ‘go paperless – save trees’ marketing tactics are a cleverly disguised cost savings tactic. The truth is, both options have an environmental impact. Electronic waste continues to be one of the fastest growing waste streams worldwide. Less than 1/6 of electronic devices are believed to be properly recycled. Repeatedly upgraded to the latest and greatest, as these devices hit landfills in the U.S. and developing countries, their heavy metal components reap a significant environmental and human toll. In every arena, the world must look to more responsibly managed resources and waste.

Print with the most responsibly produced, green substrates available with the help of 1Vision today.


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