On June 4, Toshiba America Business Solutions issued an announcement which stated: “As part of its ongoing mission to get businesses to print smarter and practise sustainable consumption, Toshiba America Business Solutions Inc today announced the first annual National No-Print Day (NNPD) to be held on Oct. 23, 2012. NNPD is a nationwide campaign to encourage, educate and challenge individuals and companies to commit to one day of no printing to raise awareness of the impact printing has on our planet.”
A little more than two weeks later, after an uproar from the American and global paper and printing industries, Toshiba pulled the plug on the campaign.
Ignorant statements such as ‘We know that approximately 336 million sheets of paper are wasted daily’, ‘more than 40,000 trees are discarded every day in America’ and ‘we as individuals and companies are failing to make the link between printing waste and its negative impacts on our landfills, natural resources and the environment’ was just the stuff that organisations such as Printing Industries of America and Two Sides have to challenge on a regular basis.
“Toshiba seems to have ignored the environmental impact of electronic communications. Just saying you are eliminating print and paper really does not mean you are necessarily helping the planet,” wrote Two Sides member Vince Collins in a June 13 response to NNPD. “It’s a lot more complex than that. If the alternative is, for example, electronic communication, then what is the environmental impact of this?”
The National Association for Printing Leadership also had its say: “The real waste problem is the rapidly escalating number of discarded computers and other electronic components, which are not biodegradable and will sit in landfills for generations, taking up increasing amounts of space and ultimately leaching lead, mercury, and other toxic metals, hazardous chemicals, and plastic residue into the soil.”
Greenpeace has identified electronic waste as the fastest growing component of the municipal waste steam[i].
In an article published by Graphic Repro On-line, Two Sides challenges the campaign as ‘greenwashing’, with the following:
- “Toshiba has linked paper use to deforestation (or killing trees and destroying forests) when, in fact, responsibly made paper can be a sustainable way to communicate. Paper is a highly recycled commodity in Europe, with a recycling rate approaching 70%. [ii] Does Toshiba recycle its products so effectively? We think not.”
- “Paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material. Electronic equipment, ink and toner cartridges, including those with the Toshiba brand, are made mostly from non-renewable resources and are not so easily recycled. Has Toshiba considered the life cycle of all of its own products before professing expertise on others?”
- “What do the thousands of men and women employed by Toshiba to manufacture, sell and distribute copiers, printers and toner cartridges worldwide think about this campaign?”
Much more has been written about the failed campaign. Simply pour yourself a big mug of your favourite beverage and Google ‘Toshiba No Print Day’. Much of it is constructive; some simply laughable.
As the industry, we need to stand together against the promulgation of ‘anti-paper’ ignorance. Arm yourself with the facts and enlighten colleagues, family and friends (download our paper fact sheet) and ask them to remove footers from their emails such as ‘Consider the environment before you print this’ (download some alternative footers).
While PAMSA certainly does not advocate wasteful printing, we ask that paper and printing be treated with respect:
- Buy locally manufactured paper that is FSC-certified. This way you can be assured that the paper is produced from sustainably managed plantations.
- Reuse your paper – print draft documents on the reverse side.
- Recycle your paper, keeping it dry and away from other waste.
Lastly, be responsible with your electronic waste. Do your research and find reputable electronic waste recycling companies that you know will handle your old computers and printers with the environment in mind.
[i] Greenpeace, The E-waste Problem 2009
[ii] The European Declaration on Paper Recycling 2006 – 2010 Monitoring Report 2010