THE MYTH:

Electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than print and paper

THE FACT:

Not necessarily. E-media also has environmental impacts

Two Sides E-waste

The Fact: E-media also has environmental impacts

It is not black-and-white to say "digital communication is green" and "print communication is not." Both forms of communication have environmental impacts. "Go Paperless”, “Go Green” and “Save Trees” are common themes these days as many corporations and governments encourage their customers and employees to switch to electronic transactions and communications. Our research shows that more than 8 in 10 U.S. consumers believe that cost savings are the driving force behind the ‘go paperless’ marketing hype, and many are suspicious of marketing claims that going paperless will ‘save trees’ or ‘protect the environment'.   

  • It is estimated that small network equipment in America’s homes consumed more than $1 billion worth of electricity in 2012, equivalent to the output of three large (500 MW) coal fired power plants. This resulted in 5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions or the annual tailpipe emissions of 1.1 million vehicles.

             – Natural Resources Defense Council, 2013

  • Data centers are one of the largest and fastest growing consumers of electricity in the United States. In 2013, U.S. data centers consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough electricity to power all the households in New York City twice over – and are on-track to reach 140 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020.

             – Natural Resources Defense Council, 2014

  • A study by Two Sides found that half the leading Fortune 500 telecommunications companies, banks and utilities were making unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of electronic billing. In response, Two Sides initiated a campaign to educate senior executives on the sustainability of print and paper and to encourage them to abandon misleading environmental claims. To date, over 30 companies have removed their environmental claims and several more are working with Two Sides to develop language that does not contain misleading or factually incorrect environmental claims about the use of online transactions and communications. 

            – Two Sides, 2015

Please refer to our Two Sides Fact Sheets for more information