Printing Misconceptions #2: Electronic Communication is More Environmentally Friendly than Print

By Jill Wangler, Director of Marketing

My previous post uncovered the falsehoods in statements about print and paper being environmentally unfriendly. Now let’s look at another fallacy:  digital communications is more “green” than print. Let’s look at the facts:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from making a CD are four times higher than from printing a 100 page, four-color annual report.
  • Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint. All other media require energy every time they are viewed.
  • Electronic devices often require the mining and refining of numerous minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non renewable resources.
  • Adverse health effects from producing an e-reader are 70 times worse than producing a book!

And think about the electronic waste! E-waste describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. Note:


  • In 2010 Americans generated 2.4 million tons of electronic waste.
  • Worldwide 20 to 50 million metric tons of e‐waste are disposed each year.
  • E‐waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in the US
  • 50-80% that is collected for recycling is shipped overseas and often unsafely dismantled.

So, in brief, I’m not advocating an “either/or” approach to marketing communications channel selection. Rather, by linking the power of paper with the efficiency of electronics, you create a synergy, producing a result greater than the sum of their individual contributions.

Click here to see Fineline’s green certifications.

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