Once again the question of whether paper-making is a major contributor to deforestation and dehydration of the planet by using copious amounts of water.
According to one protagonist 300 litres of water are used to produce one Sunday newspaper (they do not say which one, but It is not the News of the World!)
A second saver of planet Earth relates the fact that to make 25 tonnes of paper towels then ‘220 trees are killed’. By that, I assume they mean chopped down.
So let us examine the first assumption that 300 litres of water are used to produce a Sunday Newspaper.
Now I am not going to bombard you with figures because they tend to be slightly boring to the un-initiated. However figures produced By UPMs Nordland paper mill have produced some interesting data that refutes the 300 litre per Sunday newspaper story.
Once again I am going to spare you the task of scrutinising all the data and just give you the facts relevant to this story.
According to Norland’s the amount of water used for producing a Sunday paper varies between 2-10 litres.
Let us be generous to those who believe the 300-litre story, take the worst-case scenario, and go for the 10 litres per paper figure.
And let us assume the average Sunday paper is, for argument’s sake, 24 pages, and uses 10 litres of water.
At a rough guess any paper that used 300 litres of water would contain 720 pages.
Now that would be some rag and legislation would not allow any paperboy or girl to deliver such a backbreaking paper round.It would be worse than sending them up chimneys.
Now let us get to the second question regarding paper products as the killer of trees.
This issue is closer to home than the water question as any paper based advertising, and this especially relates to door drop leaflets, is always held up as the killer of trees and the destroyer of the nests and homes of birds and squirrels.
Every now and again here at Clare Lodge we get and envelope full of leaflets a householder has received during the last few weeks, they never pay the postage and the Royal Mail adds a surcharge if we want to have it delivered.
Sometimes there is a note to say ‘how many trees did it take to make this’ sometimes there is an expletive but never a name and address to reply or explain how important the direct marketing industry is to the UK economy.
It would have been great to be able to reply pointing out the facts about trees and European forests and to the extent to which paper is now recycled in the developed world and how we are one of the most efficient industries when it comes to recycling. But still, those of us who use paper to advertise products and services are accused of stripping the planet of its tree population by a small but vocal few.
So let me layout some facts here.
In Europe now in 2016, at least 94.4% of the paper used comes from European Forests. Also the area of Europe covered by sustainable forests is growing every year by an area the size of Greece, that’s equivalent to 1.5 million football fields or an area 4 times the size of Greater London. The paper manufacturing industry is not stupid. It would be commercial suicide for them to devour a precious resource as trees with no intention of replacing what they use.
The industry carefully manages its forest, and it plants more trees than it uses.
So what conclusions are we to draw from these accusations regarding water and paper usage when it comes to leaflet distribution.
Let’s bring it down to a simple level.
An A5 leaflet will consume about 0.0025 of a litre of water.
It will use no more than a minute portion of a splinter of wood (less if it is recycled paper.)
To be honest, these figures are not exactly accurate, but I think they are more accurate than the 300 litres of water for a Sunday Newspaper and 220 dead trees for 25 tonnes of paper towels.
And I doubt if these figures will silence the critics of those of us who use paper in our businesses.
But why let the truth get in the way of a scaremongering headline?