“Great, I’m killing all the trees again”, you think to yourself as you print those 8000 flyers your manager requested for another marketing campaign. “Why don’t they just listen to me and go paperless? What will happen when there are no trees left?”

Rest assured, you are not the only one experiencing this guilt-fuelled anxiety at the thought of the environment’s current state. Many companies are going paperless in an attempt to be more environmentally friendly. The effect of global warming is evident, especially with all the Irma’s popping up – but will going paperless really save the trees?

The short answer is no – because the trees don’t actually need saving. But that doesn’t mean digital marketing isn’t useful or helping in other ways. Let’s address these feelings of guilt:

Why do we think trees need saving?

There are many articles (like this one) being written about how using paper is killing trees. Conservationists are trying to convince us that paper manufacturing leads to mass deforestation and are concerned about the demand the growing population puts on paper manufacturing. In reality, this is a bit melodramatic.

Paper manufacturing is a sustainable industry

Pulp and paper manufacturers like Sappi are certified by organisations like the Forest Stewardship CouncilÓ (FSCÓ) whose sole purpose is to “[protect] plant and animal species, indigenous peoples’ rights, forest workers’ safety, and much more”. Sappi, for example, replaces every tree they harvest (plus they plant extras, too) and don’t use trees from indigenous forests; only trees from Sappi owned plantations or from reliable suppliers who can provide proof for where their timber originates.

Greenhouse gases in the paper industry

Greenhouse gases mainly consist of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Fluorinated gases

One of the main concerns relating to the paper manufacturing industry’s greenhouse gas emissions is CO2 (emitted by certain types of energy like fossil fuel, used during manufacturing) and CH4 (produced by waste landfills). The truth is, without trees being grown in plantations for paper production, CO2 levels worldwide would be at least 5% higher than they already are. Trees help reduce CO2 levels by converting it to oxygen during photosynthesis. The trees in plantations absorb more CO2 than what is emitted during paper manufacturing (accounting for only about a 1% contribution to greenhouse gas emissions).

Recycling is important though

By recycling, production costs are kept low, the environment is protected, and the need for landfill space can be reduced (which means less CH4 will be produced). Paper is a truly sustainable product, meaning that it can be reused, recycled, and renewed. The wood fibre used to produce paper products can be replaced, unlike petrochemicals and crude oils that are used to produce things like plastic and nylon. Sappi can also recycle wood fibre up to seven times.

The million-dollar question: Why go digital instead of print?

Although you don’t need to feel guilty about everything you print, you will definitely save costs and reach a lot more people by using digital marketing initiatives. Read our next article about what Digital Marketing can do for you.

https://cdn-s3.sappi.com/s3fs-public/Sappi%202016%20Myths%20and%20Facts%20English%20Online%20LR.pdf

http://www.fpmseta.org.za/downloads/FPM_sub-sector_paper%20and%20pulp_final.pdf

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases

http://www.paperbecause.com/PIOP/files/48/48417708-7e64-45a7-9720-d2c50e00f3be.pdf https://ic.fsc.org/en/what-is-fsc/what-we-do

https://www.sappi.com/faqs-recycling https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/digital-really-greener-paper-marketing

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281761323_Environmental_impact_of_pulp_and_paper_mills https://cdn-s3.sappi.com/s3fs-public/2016-Sappi-Southern-Africa-Sustainability-Report.pdf https://www.sappi.com/group-profile

https://www.sappi.com/environmental-responsibility-planet