Archive for January, 2014

5 Reasons Why a Paperless Office is Bad for the Environment

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

The idea of the paperless office first came about in the 1970s when the futuristic vision of work environments which did away with the clutter of paper filing was first conceived.  Forty years later, though many offices have strived to reduce paper usage very few have managed to oust the material entirely, but this isn’t necessarily bad news.  We often think that a paperless office will inherently be better for the environment than a traditional office, but this isn’t the case at all.  Here are five reasons why:

1.    The Jevons’ Paradox


Here’s a nice example of the Jevons’ Paradox which states that as things get more efficient so we actually use them more, counteracting any environmental benefit.  Decorative LED lights on architecturally iconic buildings are often cited as a good example of Jevons’ paradox – architects will cite the energy efficiency of the lights, but of course, they weren’t going to stick a pattern of incandescent bulbs up there before LEDs came along.
The above is an LED advert for some condos in Toronto.  If LED technology weren’t available the car wouldn’t be consuming the energy needed to power the sign and it wouldn’t be careering around the streets of Toronto glugging fuel and emitted greenhouse gasses.
Apply this to the paperless office – as we become more efficient through using technology, so we end up using more, upgrading; increasing efficiency, but also increasing energy use.  The cloud is a good example of this.  People now bring more devices to work; phones, tablets, laptops as well as their desktop.  So instead of spending the energy used to power a desktop computer and manufacture some pads of paper, folders and files they now use several electronic devices which use a considerable amount more energy than alternatives.

2.    We haven’t figured out a sustainable way to manufacture more devices
The main worry about moving to a paperless office is that we haven’t figured out how to manufacture devices in an efficient way.   Technology takes an unprecedented amount of energy to manufacture.  It takes almost the same amount of energy to make a handful of microchips as it does a car and the average computer typically consists of 18 to 36 microchips.  You need 2 kg of fuel for every 1 kg of product for most manufactured products.  For a computer you need 12 kgs of fuel for 1kg of computer.
3.     We don’t know how to recycle devices yet
If we opt to use computers exclusively rather than using a hybrid of paper and technology then we’ll inevitably get through the devices quicker.  Point 2 makes a compelling argument as to why this is so dangerous, but on top of this we also don’t have many viable recycling practices for the devices we use.
We generate between 20-50 million tonnes of e-waste globally each year.  Most of this ends up in landfills or incinerators.  That means that toxic substances like lead, cadmium and mercury contaminate land, water and air.

4.    Going paperless means we need to store more data; more data centres means more energy used
Inevitably, if we’re moving information from paper to digital we’ll be storing more data on servers in data centres, so data centres will expand.  Though there are innovators working towards more sustainable solutions for data centres, Iceotope being a notable one (they’re created a unique cooling system)  in general data centres use an astonishing amount of energy; one data centre can use enough electricity to power 180,000 homes.

5.    Because paper is sustainable

The pulp and paper industry is one of the smallest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet.  It emits just 1.1% of global greenhouse emissions and paper is one of the few materials that can be recycled in its entirety.
In 2012 the European recycling rates for paper reached 72%.  Two tonnes of paper are recycled every second in Europe.  E-waste on the other hand is not easy to recycle and we’re struggling to deal with the massive amount of e-waste being created.

Woodland Trust

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Purely Digital helps create new native woodland in Lincolnshire

More than 1,500 trees were planted at The Prince William of Gloucester Barracks in Grantham as part of Premier Paper’s Carbon Capture programme and the Woodland Trust’s Woodland Carbon scheme. 

Premier provides a unique opportunity for Purely Digital to capture the CO2 emissions from the manufacture and distribution of their paper purchases and to invest in UK-based carbon projects. “For every order placed, we calculate the amount of CO2 generated in the production and delivery of the paper. Purely Digital then capture the associated CO2 by supporting the Woodland Trust through Premier’s Carbon Capture programme,” said Environmental Sales Director Chris Stanyon

To date, paper purchases have supported the planting of 160 hectares of native trees including Ash, Aspen, Oak, Yew and Rowan, at several of the Woodland Trust’s Carbon Removal projects that comply with the Government’s Woodland Carbon Code.

Taking this commitment to environmental protection one step further, on 28th November Purely Digital joined more than 65 other people in rolling up their sleeves to plant 1,500 trees at the Lincolnshire barracks.

Although owned by the MOD the land has free access to the general public and is situated on the outskirts of Grantham, a market town in Lincolnshire. The Barracks recognises the potential of tree planting as a way to strengthen relationships between civilian and military communities. The Woodland Trust is helping them achieve this through a partnership agreement, with the Trust planting trees under license or lease and handing back established woodland to the landowner after 10-15 years. The Trust enhanced the appeal of the planting by making it a part of the Jubilee Woods project, an ambitious initiative to plant six million trees to celebrate the 2012 Royal Diamond Jubilee.

The Woodland Trust looks after over 1,200 woodlands covering in excess of 60,000 acres throughout the UK. Dr Nick Atkinson, a carbon specialist at The Woodland Trust said: “Working in partnership with landowners like the Ministry of Defence and with support from businesses like Purely Digital, is allowing us to create large areas of new native woodland, which over time will remove hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and lock it away permanently.” The Trust estimates that each hectare of woodland planted at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks will lock up approximately 400 tonnes of C02.

“Purely Digital is demonstrating its commitment to environmental responsibility and a tree planting event like this allows people to see for themselves and be a part of what they are supporting by participating in Premier Paper’s Carbon Capture programme,” he said.

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading charity championing native woods and trees. It has 300,000 members and supporters.

The Trust has three key aims: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free.