January 2012 > Americans Have Misconceptions About Sustainability of Paper Versus Electronic Communications

Americans Have Misconceptions About Sustainability of Paper Versus Electronic Communications

Earlier this month, we showcased compelling statistics comparing the environmental impact of pixels versus paper in an article entitled “Are Pixels Greener Than Paper?” The article highlights some of the misconceptions Americans have about the environmental impacts of print and paper. 

Those false impressions are reiterated in a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides (a non-profit organization created to promote the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper) and featured over at PrintInTheMix.com.

In a nutshell, many Americans believe that electronic communications are a more environmentally friendly way to read books, magazines and mail.  According to Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides, "the fact is that both electronic and paper-based communications have an environmental footprint." 

“Most people think the U.S. paper recycling rate is between 20 and 40 percent,” says Phil Riebel, president at Two Sides, “but American Forest and Paper Association data show that more than 63 percent of all paper used in the United States in 2010 was recycled.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that’s more than any other commodity, including plastics, glass and metals. The industry has set a goal to exceed 70 percent of all paper recovered for recycling by 2020.”

With all that in mind, consider these facts as welll:

  • The amount of forestland in the United States has remained nearly the same over the last century at about 750 million acres, and the major cause of global deforestation is not papermaking, but the conversion of tropical rainforests to agricultural land.

  • Only 18% of electronics are recycled and most don’t get used to manufacture new products*.

So when 70% of Americans (including 69% of 18- to 24-year-olds) say they "prefer to read print and paper communications than reading off a screen", it’s easy to see why paper is a wise environmental choice when planning a marketing mix. 

About: Two Sides commissioned Ipsos, a global market research company, to conduct a multi-country survey in September 2011.  U.S. results included 500 respondents classified by age and gender.

Source:Market Wire, 
Research Shows Americans Still Prefer Print and Paper Communications, but Misconceptions About Environmental Sustainability Remain, January 18, 2012.

*Source: Down to Earth. Issue: Are Pixels Greener Than Paper?


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