ISSUE: ARE PIXELS GREENER THAN PAPER?
Energy Consumption: Is It Efficient?
pulp and paper industry: 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 produced on site at mills. In addition, these facilities use combined heat and power (CHP) generation systems, which are 80-90 percent efficient. Fossil fuel use and purchased energy in this industry is steadily decreasing.
electronic data center servers: Taking only the servers that power the Internet as comparison, the electronics industry uses more than 90 percent fossil fuels purchased off the grid, which are greenhouse gas emitting. The conventional power-generation systems used are only 45-60 percent efficient. And the consumption rate for data centers in the U.S. alone doubled from 2000-2006 and is set to double again by 2011.
ask the right questions
Many believe that electronic media are more environmentally friendly than paper and have a smaller environmental footprint. Before you choose, weigh all the tradeoffs between electronic devices and paper. Start by asking the right questions:
Is the medium made from a renewable resource? Yes. Paper is made from wood – a resource that is being renewed on a daily basis by the paper and forest products industry, which plants millions of trees every year. Electronic devices are made of plastics and other non-renewable resources and often contain toxic chemicals and metals.
Aren’t most electronics recycled and made into other products? No. Only 18 percent of the U.S. electronic devices are currently recycled, and many of those are not being reused for other products. In the U.S., nearly 60 percent of all paper is recycled, recovered and reused to make new paper products.
Is electronic delivery of communications always greener than paper? No. As new research emerges, it is clear that “either/or” is not the answer. Instead, one must consider all the inputs and outputs before making a decision about which communications are better delivered electronically or on paper.
Is there room for both paper and pixels in the future? Yes. By linking the power of paper with the efficiency of electronics, we can streamline our communications and help maintain the best environmental balance possible.NEXT End of Life: How Does it Break Down?