Printed paper is made from a renewable resource. Trees can be replanted in places where they were harvested and also in places where they don’t currently grow. As much as we love our electronic devices, they don’t grow on trees or anywhere else.

65.1 percent of all paper in the U.S. is currently recycled.

Printed paper can be recycled, recovered and reused. The systems that are in place for these processes are widely available and have become more efficient and sophisticated over the many years they have existed. In contrast, electronic devices are much more complex and expensive to recycle, recover and reuse due to the toxic nature of many of their components, and current systems are still in the early stages.

The average data center serving our electronic devices consumes the same amount of energy as 25,000 households.

The paper we use to print in the U.S. is made from more than 60 percent biofuels. Paper mills use what’s left over from the manufacturing process to generate bioenergy on site. This serves to:

  • Divert waste from landfills
  • Decrease the overall carbon footprint of paper products
  • Decrease dependency on coal and other fossil fuels
  • Help meet green energy goals in America

By contrast, server farms that power computers have become the fastest growing users of fossil fuel in the world, and the amount of energy they use is doubling every year.

Modern commercial printing employs more sustainable practices. From recycling to energy usage, commercial printers are making great strides in reducing their environmental footprints by implementing such practices as:

  • Purchasing products, materials and services from individuals and organizations that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability
  • Gaining third-party certification credentials
  • Reducing the impact of chemicals by using vegetable-based inks, eco-friendly soy inks, alcohol-free chemistry and aqueous coatings
  • Sequencing print jobs by ink color, saving ink changes and waste
  • Using biodegradable packaging materials and waste paper instead of petroleum-based foam peanuts
  • Using a higher percentage of paper grades that are recycled, post-consumer and third-party forest certified to be from responsible sources
  • Reducing the impact of energy loads on the electric grid by staggering production start times and effectively avoiding operating at full load during peak run time hours
  • Using alternative power, such as wind or solar, in many locations where it is available
  • Educating employees on environmental information, recycling procedures and certification training
  • Equipping presses with ink monitoring devices to reduce waste
  • Recycling printing plates, soda cans, cell phones, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, old computer equipment, tin, glass and plastics

NEXT: Economic and social benefits of printed paper

"The pulp and paper industry is uniquely positioned to immediately produce significant amounts of biofuels, bioenergy and bioproducts. With a mature, operating infrastructure capable of delivering double-digit billions of gallons of biofuels annually, generally without adding any new fiber processing capacity, many pulp and paper mills around the world are only a one-step investment away from becoming major renewable energy producers."