It is time to stand up for all the world’s printed material and tackle head on the issue of whether digital material really is more eco-friendly than paper-based books. Here are a few facts listed by Dead Tree Edition.
Raw materials – Paper is a renewable resource. For example, the North American paper and forest products industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of the forests by planting 1.7 million trees every single day, more than three times what is harvested. Making a computer typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, including gold, silver and palladium, as well as the extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. No one is ploughing the necessary resources back into the ground to make more oil for the petrochemicals that digital devices consume.
Energy – 60 per cent of the energy used to make paper in the US comes from renewable resources and is produced on site at the mills, compared with the electronics industry, which uses more than 90 per cent fossil fuels.
Recycling – In the US, nearly 60 per cent of all paper is recycled, recovered and reused to make new paper products, while electronic devices have a recycling rate of only 18 per cent.
Use – An article in The Journal says that most students prefer printed textbooks to digital ones, partly because they can’t highlight important passages or write notes in e-textbooks.
Reliability – Digital editions are often read on machines running Windows or Vista, but the advantage of printed editions is that they never crash, get infected with viruses, receive spam, or disturb concentration with pop-up ads. The lifespan of a computer is short and electronics have become the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Much of that waste is toxic. Paper, on the other hand, is reusable, recyclable and biodegradable.
So, is it still justifiable to suggest that digital books are more eco-friendly than books printed on paper?
TEXT: Martina Nicklasson / Power of Print
Source: Dead tree edition (2009) Smackdown: Printed editions vs. Digital editions.