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Environment

Two Sides tackles Government over paper policy

Pro-print group Two Sides has written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to warn that a commitment made to cut paper usage by 50 percent could in fact increase the Government’s carbon footprint.

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Leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt speaks at a recent conference held by Two Sides' sister organisation Print Power

Defra recently published ‘Greening Government Commitments 2016-2020’, in which it pledged that the UK Government would meet the paper usage target by the year 2020, as part of a wider plan to reduce its impact on the environment.

However, in an open letter to Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State, Defra, and defeated Prime Minister candidate, warned that the report does not consider what communications medium will replace paper or that the alternatives, most likely digital, will themselves have substantial environmental impacts.

“The environmental impact of our ever-increasing digital world cannot be ignored,” the Two Sides letter says, adding: “The ICT industry accounts for approximately two percent of global emissions, on par with the emissions from the global aviation sector.

“Each year, the electronic industry—one of the world’s largest and fastest growing—generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste from goods such as computers and smart phones.

The paper and print industry account for 122,000 jobs and £13.5bn in value to the UK economy; making unsubstantiated environmental statements threatens jobs and the economy

“So, when considering carbon reduction, it is important to consider that paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and consumed, is an environmentally sustainable medium.

“In Europe, where 93 percent of our paper comes from, recycling rates are 72 percent and the forests have grown by an area the size of Switzerland in the past 10 years; that’s about 1,500 football pitches every day.”

Two Sides continues: “Sustainably managed and growing forests are essential to ensure the availability of paper and many other products and are fundamental to global carbon capture.

“It must surely also be a consideration that, in a world where data leaks and hacking of digital information is becoming commonplace, the Government should be particularly careful to recognise that paper records and communications can often offer a greater level of security.

“Whilst we clearly see the efficiency of electronic communications and encourage the reduction of unnecessary waste, the potential damage to the print and paper industry, by suggesting that print media is environmentally unfriendly, requires our strongest response.

“The paper and print industry account for 122,000 jobs and £13.5bn in value to the UK economy; making unsubstantiated environmental statements threatens jobs and the economy.”

To read the full letter from Two Sides, visit: http://bit.ly/2h9jAcY

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@printmonthly.co.uk

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