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Papering Over the Truth: Print Lobby Says Online Billing Not So Green

If 95% of customers print out their online bills, then paper billing could be the greener option. Who does that though?

How many bills come in paper form to your mailbox? Probably very few. You've likely long ago clicked the "go green" option and not looked back. But wait: Start the presses! The paper barons are here to tell you that e-billing may not be the better option for the planet.

Two Sides, a mouthpiece for the "graphic communications value chain," is offering its "expertise at no cost to U.S. corporations who currently make environmental claims about print and paper relative to online billing and communication." According to Two Sides, their expertise led several UK corporations to adjust their misleading messaging around the environmental impact of paper usage.

Raz Godelnik over at Triple Pundit was skeptical of the pulp industry's green claims and decided to take a closer look at a couple of related life cycle analyses. One from Australia and one from France. The big takeaway?

For every 1 million online bills received by customers instead of a paper bill, 19.9 tonnes of CO2 equivalents is saved, 6 tonnes of fossil fuels and scarce metals, 32 tonnes of toxic substances and reduces that potential impact on land use by 20,000 PDF cm2 yr


Interestingly though, Godelnik points out that if every customer recycled each and every paper bill or if 95 percent of customers printed out their online bills, then paper billing would actually be the greener option. Both of those scenarios seem unlikely though.

Last month Toshiba cancelled a national "No Print Day" campaign after loud protest from the paper industry. "The group argued the campaign was offensive to printing industry workers and unfairly implicated print as environmentally hazardous," reported the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Score for the paper barons. I'll be sticking with e-billing though.

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