What’s the carbon footprint of a printed magazine ?
Posted on 25th October 2021
You might think it’s greener to consume your content online rather than from a printed magazine, but is it really?
With the COP26 summit taking place in Glasgow we thought it was worth looking at things a little more closely.
Energy hungry technology
To allow us to access so much information with a swipe, tap, or click there are vast numbers of servers and data centres around the world. The world's biggest data centres might use more than 100megawatts of power, which is enough to power 80,000 homes, and research shows that they can emit 80megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Our use of the internet worldwide for just one hour could be equivalent to burning 4,000 tonnes of oil, although the energy might come from renewable sources such as wind farms or solar power.
We should also consider all the materials and energy needed to manufacture, distribute, and use our PCs, tablets, and smartphones. For example, Apple says that the iPad Pro releases 120 to 160kg of CO², depending on its life cycle, from extraction of primary materials to its recycling.
Magazines and their readers
There isn’t a simple way to work out how many resources are used and how much energy is needed to publish a magazine, or to read it for that matter. Considerations could include the processes used in paper production and printing, the page numbers and the print run, distribution methods, and the number of readers per copy.
To make a comparison, we would need to know how much time is spent reading equivalent content online and whether people print articles that they find interesting and want to keep.
Paper production does contribute to about 10% of the world’s total deforestation figure, but some wooded areas wouldn’t be planted if the raw materials weren’t needed. It’s also worth reflecting on paper recycling which needs 40% less energy and causes less pollution than new paper production. The paper we use for Pulse magazine meets Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards to look after forests and the people and wildlife who use them.
At the same time, each of us has an average of five unused devices. While they can be reused or recycled, many currently aren’t. Known as e-waste, the amount produced globally in 2019 was 53.6 million tonnes, which is an increase of over 20% in five years. In the UK alone 2.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions could be saved by recycling them.
An example: National Geographic magazine
National Geographic magazine undertook a study which showed that the average life cycle of its magazine produces the equivalent of around 0.82kg of carbon dioxide which is like driving your car for about three kilometres.
There are a lot of pros and cons and at Pulse magazine we aim to do our bit to help our readers and advertisers make greener choices.
Our dedicated team delivers by hand directly to people’s homes across Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, reducing the energy needed for distribution. They can deliver your leaflets too.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch.
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