Ask PNEAC Archive: Environmental Impact of Paper

Environmental Impact of Paper
Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:21:43 EDT

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:21:43 EDT
Subject: Environmental Impact of Paper

After having a chance to conduct a little research, I do not think there are
any studies that answer the questions on bulk Vs cut paper and environmental
impact. There are too many variables in the question to derive a definitive
conclusion. Newsprint is a term given to a wide range of paper types and cut
sheets could encompasses many different types of paper grades and finishes.
If you have more details on the question, then perhaps I can go back to my

You may also want to contact the paper industry directly. I would suggest
that you contact the Institute of Paper Science and Technology at
404/894-5726 (, Technical Association For the Pulp and Paper
Industry at 800/332-8686,770/446-1400 (, or the American Forest
and Paper Association at 202/463-2700 ( There are some fee
based Internet organizations that could also provide some information such as
PaperChem at, PaperBase at, or Pira at

It is important to keep in mind that the manufacturing of paper has become
much more environmentally friendly. The paper companies have been working
very hard to minimize the impact that paper manufacturing has on the
environment through a variety of programs. They are also working under a new
cluster rule which has set very stringent air, waste, and wastewater
discharge requirements. There is also a new Certified Forest Products Council
that has established criteria to meet for the paper companies and their pulp

The real question to be answered is the effect electronic media will have on
the printed page. This is difficult to answer definitively as the electronic
media is so new. From the reports I have read about the ebooks, the printer
should not feel threatened. They are difficult to work with, slow, hard to
read, bulky, can't display pictures or images very well (if at all), and
relatively expensive to use. There will have to be significant improvements
in the technology before it replaces books, magazines, and catalogs. Based on
the industry growth figures I read, the Internet has not had an impact on
commercial printing as the industry continues to grow. I can't help but think
of the prediction several decades back that the computer was going to lead to
the paperless office, but the statistics show that we use more paper than

In examining the commercial printing market, digital technology has had an
impact in terms of the type of work being printed. There is an increasing
demand for short run, quick turn around, color work. This huge demand has
caused a shift not so much in paper type, but in how printers use their
equipment. Web printers still use their web presses, it just that they do not
print as many copies as before.

At this point I think it is difficult to predict the impact of electronic
media on print media. So far, the impact has been minimal. I hope this
answers your question or at least gives you another opinion. Let me know what
you think.

Gary Jones
Graphic Arts Technical Foundation



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