Steps on the Carbon Ladder

ImageEco-warriors just love the printing industry: all those dead trees, all those stinking solvents. And because of the high volumes and the fleeting value of their content, newspapers are an especially popular target. After all, newspapers are printed on polluting paper, on massive high-speed, energy-hungry presses. Their distribution relies on extensive heavy duty road and air transport. And because time is of the essence, everyone involved must rely on a maelstrom of electronics.

It should all add up to an environmental nightmare. So, with that in mind we recently visited two newspapers, and discovered that it’s not that simple. There’s a good deal more to understanding the carbon footprint of a newspaper than just measuring a newspaper’s individual footprint.

A carbon footprint is the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions an entity generates. The calculation includes electricity used to produce and support the entity, plus direct and indirect emissions. If we want to work out how to measure a newspaper’s carbon footprint, we need to know much more. We need to start gathering lots of objective data.

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