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Print Products Negligible Factor in Household Climate Impact, Study Finds

March 25, 2011

According to calculations, the carbon that remains bound to a printed paper product, such as a book, after five years reduces the carbon footprint caused by the production stage by approximately 5 percent. After 100 years, the drop is approximately 75 percent. In the study, the lifecycle of books was followed from the sourcing of raw materials to the retailer’s warehouse. The last stage of the lifecycle (recycling and waste management) was excluded from the examination.

The contribution of newspapers, books and other paper products to the climate impacts of consumption by Finnish households in 2005 was small (approximately 1 percent). The biggest climate impacts of consumption by Finnish households were attributable to housing (28 percent), food products (16 percent), and transport (13 percent).

A lifecycle assessment is a useful way for evaluating the potential environmental impacts of products comprehensively. The most efficient way to reduce environmental impacts is to lower the consumption of energy and fuels at different stages of the lifecycle. Other important ways to reduce environmental impacts include reducing the amount of raw materials and using materials more efficiently. Readers can reduce climatic effects by sorting their waste more thoroughly, thereby reducing the number of print products that are taken to landfills with household waste. No previous generic lifecycle assessments related to print products have been carried out in Finland.

The three-year project was commissioned by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), the Federation of Finnish Media Industry, and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, as well as several printing houses and organisations involved in the print media value chain. Apart from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, the project was sponsored by the Graphic Industry Research Foundation of Finland (GTTS), Metsäliitto Group, Myllykoski Corp., Stora Enso Group, and UPM-Kymmene Corp.

Source: press release.



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