Submitted: The Two Sides Team June 29, 2012
June 29, 2012
Yesterday SI Live published an article titled: “Paper trail: Staten Island lawmakers push legislatures to go paperless”. It contains several misleading environmental arguments on going paperless in favor of electronic communication, including this statement by the author:
“Whole forests are destroyed to comply with this quaint and, in this day and age, entirely unnecessary tradition. It’s a colossal and, frankly, shameful waste in a time when government is supposed to be more environmentally conscious. “
Below I address the main points, but I would also encourage people in the print and paper industries of NY State to voice their concerns to:
As a private forest owner who has made his living in the forest and paper industry, this type of misinformation really disappoints me. I wish that more people could be connected with forests and understand all the environmental, economic and social benefits they bring us. People need to connect paper and other forest products with well managed forests, not forest destruction. Two Sides has assembled many facts on this topic: Paper production supports sustainable forest management
Going paperless by switching to electronic communication is not going to save the planet. Just think for a minute of all the environmental and social impacts of our rapidly growing electronic infra-structure. The energy consumed, the billions of gadgets manufactured using non-renewable plastics, metals and fossil fuels. The millions of tonnes of e-waste generated every year, much of it going for disassembly in third world countries and in some cases creating health issues there. It is not a question of paper or electronic, but rather which combination of the two has the least impact on the environment while meeting social and economic needs. They both complement each other and each method can deliver advantages that the other cannot. Get the facts here.
Paper has inherent sustainability features that people need to understand. It is themost recycled commodity in the world, with a much higher recycling rates than electronics, plastic, glass, and metal. It is primarily based on a renewable resource – wood fiber from well managed forests. These forests provide important benefits to rural communities, including jobs and income for family forest owners. Perhaps our politicians need to go for a walk in a family-owned forest someday and meet some of the hard working NY forest owners.
Here are some key facts:
Paper has unique features that make it a preferred choice for reading and storage of documents for 70% of Americans .
Going electronic is not necessarily “greener” than print and paper. The direct impact of electronic products and services replacing paper is far from negligible, and the trade-off between the two depends on how often we use them, the source of energy and how we dispose of the products .
Paper is made from renewable resources, and responsibly produced and used paper has many advantages over other, non-renewable alternative materials .
Paper is the most recycled material that we use .
It is made with a high percentage of renewable energy .
Over the last 50 years, the volume of trees growing on U.S. forestland increased 49% .
The amount of U.S. forestland has remained essentially the same for the last 100 years .
The manufacture of forest products in the U.S. supports and promotes well-managed forests that provide many environmental, social and economic benefits .
The livelihood of 8.7 million Americans depends on our U.S. mail industry, including the production of print and paper .
The more people voice their concern, the more we can educate the public and our politicians that print and paper have a great environmental story to tell!
Phil Riebel, President and COO, Two Sides U.S., Inc.