Print Products Negligible Factor in Household Climate Impact, Study Finds

The carbon footprint of an annual volume of daily newspapers amounts to approximately 75 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents and that of a single newspaper to approximately 210 grams. The carbon footprint of an annual volume of daily newspapers is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of a car journey of 456 kilometers (283 miles).

The carbon footprint of an annual volume of weekly magazines is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of a journey of 45 kilometers (28 miles) by a car. Based on the assumptions made in the study, the greenhouse gas emissions produced over the entire lifecycle of a single magazine are therefore equivalent to a car journey of approximately one kilometre.The carbon footprint of a book is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of a journey about 7 kilometers (4.35 miles) by a car.

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.

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