Reducing climate change gas emissions by cutting out stages in the life cycle of office paper

T. A. M. Counsell, J. M. Allwood

The paper industry's climate change gas emissions are growing. This article considers how to reduce emissions from cut-size office paper by bypassing stages in its life cycle. The options considered are: incineration, which cuts out landfill; localisation, which cuts out transport; annual fibre, which cuts out forestry and reduces pulping; fibre recycling, which cuts out landfill, forestry and pulping; un-printing, which cuts out all stages except printing; electronic-paper, which cuts out all stages. Un-printing may offer the greatest climate change emission reduction. There are uncertainties in this result, particularly in estimating the proportion of waste office paper would be suitable for un-printing.