Europe urged to shrink paper use

The paper industry's total carbon footprint is estimated to be three times higher than the aviation industry and Europeans use four times as much paper as the global average.

These figures have led more than 50 European NGOs to join forces to urge individuals and businesses to shrink their paper use.

The Shrink campaign, launched on Monday, is working with 20 major European companies to help them reduce the amount of paper they are using unnecessarily.

People are also being encouraged to pledge to cut their consumption on the campaign’s website through simple actions such as signing off junk mail and using double-sided printing when possible.

The network of NGOs, known as the European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN), said using less paper will have a wider impact than simply reducing the number of trees cut down to make paper.

Mandy Haggith of the EEPN told edie: “The paper industry consumes a huge amount of water and a huge amount of energy, so the climate change impacts are also staggering.

“At the moment, our estimates are that the paper industry globally is responsible for about three times the emissions of the aviation industry.

“We are all very upset about the impact of people flying everywhere, but most of us haven’t calculated the impact of something like paper which we use every day.”

Virgin paper can use between 6.3kg and 9.8kg of CO2 equivalent to produce each kilogram of paper and its production can also have huge social consequences for people living in the developed world.

Alongside the global Shrink campaign, the EEPN in the UK is targeting some of the country’s biggest paper consumers, such as banks, magazine publishers, catalogue companies and supermarkets, to encourage them to use less paper in packaging, mailings and publications.

The EEPN said they hoped organisations would realise that the move could benefit not just the environment, but their bottom line too.

Ms Haggith said: “If paper is being used inefficiently, it’s costing a lot of money to do that.”

The campaign website can be found here.

Kate Martin

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