The Environmental Paper Network’s core document is our Global Paper Vision, a powerful statement of a future where paper production and consumption is socially and environmentally sustainable. Published in June 2014, it has been endorsed by more than 120 organisations on six continents.

It expresses 7 priorities:

  1. Reduce global paper consumption and promote fair access to paper
  2. Maximise recycled fibre content
  3. Ensure social responsibility
  4. Source fibre responsibly
  5. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  6. Ensure clean production
  7. Ensure transparency and integrity

The vision is here: Global Paper Vision

Some frequently asked questions about the vision, and explanation of some of the terms in it is here: EPN Global Paper Vision 2014 FAQ

The European Environmental Paper Network originally formed through a collaborative process during 2005 to create a Common Vision for Transforming the European Paper Industry (which formed the basis of the Global Paper Vision). The European vision was launched in Frankfurt in January 2006. A similar vision and network were developed in North America (see and China (see

The Global Paper Vision is available in English, Chinese, Bahasa Indonesian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese & Russian. Any non-profit organisation that endorses the Global Paper Vision can become a member of the Environmental Paper Network.

What are the environmental and social concerns about paper production?
What is the link between the paper industry and climate change?
And why should we use less paper?

Find some answers in this section to get you started on this complex issue.
For more detailed reports and analyses visit our Tools & Resources section.

  • Making a tonne of paper from wood requires 98 tonnes of other resources. (1)
  • Making a tonne of paper uses as much energy as making a tonne of steel. (2)
  • Deforestation causes more climate change emissions than global transport. (3)
  • In industrial countries, the paper industry is the biggest user of water. (4)
  • 45% of all print-outs and photocopies are binned before the end of the day. (5)
  • Industrialized nations, with 20 percent of the world’s population, consume 87 percent of the world’s printing and writing papers. (6)
  • North Americans and Europeans use more than 200kg of paper each per year, while the average African uses just 6.5kg. (7)
  • Of the global wood harvest for ‘industrial uses’ (everything but fuelwood) 42% goes to paper production. (8)
  • Total global consumption of paper is still rising and reached 400 million tonnes in 2010. Roughly half of this is consumption by Europe and North America. However, total paper consumption in North America and Europe has been declining since 2006 while it is steeply rising in China. China became the single-largest consumer of paper products in 2009. (9)
  • Global production in the pulp, paper and publishing sector is predicted to increase to 500 million tonnes by 2020. (10)
  • Taking all forest carbon losses and greenhouse gas emissions from paper production, transportation, use and disposal into account, the pulp and paper industry is calculated to be responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the global aviation industry. (11)
  • Only about half of the paper produced each year is recycled (200 million tonnes in 2012) (12)


(1) Lovins, Hunter L., Lovins, Amory & Hawken, Paul ‘Natural Capitalism.’ Little Brown & Co., 2008. Quoting Liedtke C., Material Intensity of Paper and Board Production in Western Europe. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, August 1993.
(2) Making 1 tonne of paper and steel requires 8,000-11,000kWH. USA Environmental Protection Agency.
(3) Forestry causes 17.4% of global climate change emissions, transport causes 13.1%. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Assessment Report 2007, Synthesis Report, page 5:
(4) Taevs, Debra. Recycling’s Pushed ‘Reduce, Reuse’ Out of Equation. Portland Metro Sustainable Industries Journal, June 2005. OECD Environmental Outlook, cited on
(5) 1 trillion pages are binned on the day they are printed, according to Xerox, reported in Guardian Online:
(6) Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Keynote Address UNEP’s 7th International High Level Seminar on Cleaner Production, 29-30 April 2002.
(7) World Resources Institute Earthtrends data:
(8) Abromovitz and Mattoon, Worldwatch Paper: Paper Cuts, p. 20, 1999.
(9) Environmental Paper Network: The State of the Paper Industry Report 2011, p. 4. also PaperWeb:
(10) WWF Living Forests Report.
(11) See the EEPN’s discussion document, Paper Vapour.
(12) FAO State of the World’s Forests, 2012.

Member organisations of the European Environmental Paper Network are working together to stop paper products being sold in Europe that have come from forest destruction in Indonesia.

The Indonesian forests are the homes of communities of indigenous and other peoples whose livelihoods depend on forest resources. They are rich in biodiversity, including rare species such as Sumatran tigers, orang-utans, elephants and rhinos. Many of the remaining rainforests grow on deep peat soils, which release massive amounts of carbon when laid bare by logging and used for intensive tree production. The destruction of Indonesia’s forests and conversion to pulp plantations is therefore a huge social, environmental and climate disaster and working together to stop it is the EEPN’s top priority.

The EEPN believes that paper linked to massive deforestation represents exactly the opposite of the values and the solutions identified in the Global Paper Vision. For this reason, the EEPN is engaged in a global campaign to stop the expansion of such products into our markets, until the paper industry publicly commits to immediately stop natural forest conversion, and to adequately compensate local communities impacted by their practices.

Launching the campaign, 40 European NGOs from Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Portugal, Malta, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland co-signed a letter to the paper industry demanding a stop to any purchase of paper from deforestation in Indonesia and adoption of a responsible paper procurement policy.

In 2012 we wrote joint letters to banks and European Export Credit Agencies, calling on them not to invest in new pulp mills that will inevitably cause more Indonesian deforestation. We also hosted a tour by a delegation of Indonesian activists to Europe (Indonesians Tour report)

As a result of our campaign, many companies have stopped buying paper coming from deforestation in Indonesia, and in a major breakthrough in early 2013, the major paper producer in the area, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), announced a new forest policy. EEPN has since led joint work among NGOs to produce a number of milestones that this company needs to meet before being acceptable to customers again. EEPN is part of a working group to monitor progress towards these milestones.

Meanwhile, however, deforestation continues at the hand of other companies, including Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL). Forest destruction and plantation developments are expanding from Sumatra to Borneo and New Guinea, pushing three highly endangered species – the Sumatran tiger, elephant and orang-utan – closer to extinction. Acacia plantations are also expanding from Indonesia to Vietnam and Laos.

EEPN is co-ordinating a pan-European campaigning effort, promoting grassroots actions, keeping information flowing, and ensuring good links between our member organisations and their key activists. We will continue until we have shut down the European market for paper linked to deforestation.

We will publish updates and further information on this campaign here on a regular basis. So stay tuned!

If you or your organisation want to get active in this campaign, or to find out more, please drop us a line:

Performance Milestones for Asia Pulp and Paper

Indonesian rain forest

tigerIn September 2013, international and local conservation organizations spoke with one voice to introduce Performance Milestones for Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) Sustainability Roadmap’ Vision 2020 and new Forest Conservation Policy announced in February. Under the umbrella of the Environmental Paper Network, this collaborative effort seeks to provide clarity to responsible purchasers in the marketplace. APP’s new policy is a significant step forward but there is a need to wait for proof of its implementation if companies are to avoid brand risk. The milestones seek to define what that proof looks like over the next 12 months. It is entitled The First Test. Progress on the Performance Milestones will need to be verified by independent audits. Their auditing will help customers and investors determine whether APP is effectively implementing its policy commitments and can help guide action by other pulp/paper companies in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Among the results of the EPN Milestones is the Solution Working Group, where civil society organizations are discussing with APP about the implementation of its new policy and about meeting the EPN Milestones. Cover-Milestones-JPG-2

Indonesian rain forest

The EEPN has a long-running project called Shrink Paper, in which we bring together practical tools and examples of paper efficiency and reducing paper consumption.

Why use less paper?

Using less paper can make the world a fairer place. By using as much as six times the world average, most Europeans and North Americans are using far more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources.

Paper is a precious part of our life, with many life-enhancing uses like books and passports. It can be a sustainable product, but only it if comes from responsible sources and is used efficiently and not wastefully. As paper production is resource intensive, becoming more efficient in our paper use can cut energy use and climate change emissions, limit water, air and other pollution and produce less waste. Furthermore, deforestation has heavy social impacts and is often related to human rights abuses, particularly in countries in the global South. Responsible and efficient use of paper helps curb deforestation and support responsible paper production. Ultimately we all should value paper more highly as a precious resource and not use it as a disposable commodity.

Using less paper can also save you money

The indirect savings can be 10 times the cost of the paper alone. These include reducing the costs of technology like photocopy toner and printer ink, paying for less storage space and filing equipment, slashing postage costs and saving time. Paper is a valuable natural resource and using it carefully will make you feel better than being wasteful. We are not advocating the use of alternative materials to paper, unless they are proven to have a smaller ecological footprint, and we encourage all paper users to work towards all the goals in our global paper vision.

Not only paper, use less of everything!

The EEPN’s focus is on paper, however it is clear that overconsumption and inefficient consumption as well as bad practices also occur with other commodities. In the last 50 years, humanity doubled demands on natural resources, increased our carbon footprint 11-fold and quadrupled our paper consumption. By 2007 our footprint exceeded the Earth´s biocapacity by 50%.

By 2030 we would need 2 planets to keep up with current rates of resource consumption (including carbon absorption capacity), but we only have one planet!

Food, fibre and fuel compete intensively for limited land and water resources, which raises fundamental questions about how we can adapt our ways of living and doing business. Yet many of us can see that we need to find an alternative to business as usual.  In 2010,  according to Price Waterhouse Cooper, 34% of Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and 53% of Latin American CEOs expressed concern about the impacts of biodiversity loss on their business growth prospects, yet so far only 18% of Western European CEOs get the message.

In the longer term, as population and incomes grow,  humanity will require forestry and farming practices that produce more with less land, water and pollution, and we will require new consumption patterns that meet the needs of the poor while eliminating waste and over-consumption by the affluent. We want to see paper producers and consumers leading the way in this change. For more information on how to reduce your paper consumption, visit and if you are interested in supporting our work on this topic, please get in touch.

Our favourite tools and resources for saving paper and making sustainable paper choices:

  • Shrink Paper: our web pages for reducing paper consumption in schools, at home and in businesses.
  • The Future of Paper: our video explaining our vision for paper.
  • What’s In Your Paper: A great website from our partners in North America.
  • The Paper Steps: A practical guide to environmentally responsible paper.
  • The Paper Calculator: Helps you quantify the benefits of better paper choices, by showing the environmental impacts of different papers across their full lifecycle.
  • The REDD Video: This cool animation from FERN makes clear why reducing deforestation will require fundamental reductions in consumption of forest products, including paper.
  • WWF’s Living Forests Report: This is essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of the world’s forests.


Read EEPN news in the links to posts in the right hand column.

Paper Vapour – Paper’s Carbon Emissions
Paper has a surprisingly big carbon footprint. Although paper is based on a renewable resource, a recent discussion paper by the EEPN shows that the way it is produced and used results in more green house gas emissions than global aviation.

Carbon emissions occur throughout the life of a piece of paper: when it is sourced from a forest, when it is pulped, when it is transported and made into something to be used and when it is thrown away. If we use paper wastefully through short life products such as junk mail, inefficient office printing, or virgin tissue paper, it may only take a few weeks for forest carbon to be cut, pulped, shipped, used and dumped into the atmosphere.

In Europe and America we use on average 200kg of paper per year so this means our daily dose of packaging, junk mail, tissues and photocopying adds up to 2 or more tonnes of carbon emissions. If we want to stop contributing to climate change, changing our paper habits can really help.In particular, we should avoid wasteful use of paper for pointless, short-life purposes, like unwanted advertising or excessive packaging. The carbon balance of books remaining on shelves for decades is of course different. This is why we advocate extending the lifespan of products and eliminating wastefulness which ultimately will cut down our climate impact.

Click here to learn more about how paper efficiency can help reduce paper vapour.

How can we reduce our paper vapour emissions?

Paper’s carbon footprint can be cut by using less of it, substituting recycled for virgin fibre products and cleaning up production.

  1. Using less paper reduces the carbon footprint of each step of the paper life-cycle, so it is by far the best way to cut paper vapour emissions. Reducing your paper footprint by around 100kg per year would save a tonne of carbon emissions.
  2. By closing the loop, recycled paper products cut the emissions from two stages of the life-cycle (sourcing and disposal). Producing recycled paper pulp also uses much less energy than pulping wood, reducing emissions there, and in Europe recycled paper products tend to have travelled many fewer miles than their virgin equivalents, saving transport emissions too.
  3. Pulp companies and paper product converters and printers can reduce emissions through energy efficiency and by shifting to renewable sources of energy. They can source wood, pulp and paper from suppliers closer to home and insist on certified evidence of sustainable forest management. Forest certifiers should consider forest carbon emissions as part of their assessment of sustainability.

The European Environmental Paper Network’s vision is for a paper industry that has zero carbon emissions. Contact us to find out how you can help us to eliminate those paper vapours!

Why is paper’s carbon footprint so large?

There are five stages in the life-cycle of paper products and they all cause carbon emissions.

1. Sourcing

When trees are cut from forests, the store of carbon in trees and in the soil is reduced. This is particularly a problem when logging occurs in natural forests which have not been cut before and, incredibly, remaining natural forests are still cleared to produce paper and other wood-based commodities. Forest carbon loss calculations are complex. Responsible forest management can protect forest carbon, but it’s a no-brainer to recognise that clearcutting a forest reduces the carbon stored in it. Some of the worst paper industry cases are in places like Indonesia or Russia, where deep peat soils, which store vast quantities of carbon, are degraded by logging and draining, emitting huge amounts of carbon.

2. Pulping

Knock on wood – it’s hard! Pulping it uses a lot of energy – you need as much energy to make a tonne of paper as you do to make a tonne of steel. Pulp is made either mechanically, by literally smashing or shredding it to smithereens, or chemically, by chipping it then stewing it in a chemical soup. Either way, pulp mills are huge engineering works and they require major energy supplies. Some mills use renewable energy sources, but many use wood (which takes us back to sourcing) or fossil fuels, and these mean yet more carbon emissions. Renewables tend to have a lower footprint than fossil based materials such as steel and concrete. However, paper is still very resource intensive.

The increasing use of wood based biomass, which will be a major driver for wood use over the next 3 decades, can also be problematic. By 2050, annual wood demand for energy could reach 6-8 billion m3, which would require more than twice the wood removed for all uses today. This clearly poses a challenge for sustainable land-use planning. Badly managed bioenergy production can destroy valuable ecosystems, undermine food and water security, harm rural communities and prolong wasteful energy consumption.

3. Transport

The concept of ‘food miles’ is familiar, but how many miles have the fibres in the paper you use travelled? In Europe, we import pulp and paper from Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Canada the USA and most other corners of the globe where trees grow. We ship waste paper to China then import it back again as packaging. Almost all of that transportation and distribution is fuelled by carbon emitting fossil fuels.

4. Use

Raw paper from mills supplies a vast industry of ‘converters’, who make it into useful things, like cardboard boxes, paper bags, food packages, sanitary materials, office products and envelopes. The print industry does huge runs of catalogues, magazines, leaflets and books. These are distributed to retailers or in the mail, making their way into businesses and homes where they finally serve their purpose. The carbon footprint of all of these processes is part of the footprint of the paper we use.

5. Disposal

Almost as soon as paper has completed its journey to us, its end user, we throw it away. After glancing at the report, ripping open the package or picking the junk mail off the mat, we chuck it into the bin. In Europe and America, paper and cardboard is the single biggest component of domestic waste streams. The richer a country is, the bigger proportion of its waste is made up of paper. Garbage trucks use fossil fuels to run, and even though recycling rates have increased in recent years, we are still sending at least a quarter of the paper we use to landfill sites to rot. Decomposing paper turns to either carbon dioxide or methane, which is an even more damaging greenhouse gas.

China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of paper, making and using more than 100 million tonnes of paper and board annually. It is the biggest importer of recovered paper and producer of recycled paper. (1)

The world’s largest paper machine is in China (photo by Mike De Sisti)

Chinese financiers are crucial to the future of the global paper industry through their investments in the next generation of pulp and paper mills. It is therefore vital for civil society to be aware of, and able to influence, the Chinese paper industry.

Paper was invented in China more than 2000 years ago, and there is a rich heritage of paper-making and use in Chinese society. China has considerable technical knowledge and long experience of sustainable paper making from agricultural fibres, with two-thirds of world production. There is much that the rest of the world can learn from China about paper. However, the Chinese paper industry is in a situation of rapid transformation and growth, and it has significant environmental and social impacts.

The Environmental Paper Networks of North America and Europe have been joined by a Chinese network of civil society organisations – the Chinese Environmental Paper Network (CEPN). The network is co-ordinated by one of its member organisations, Green Camel Bell, with the support of a working group.

Some of the most important issues that the CEPN is concerned about are as follows.

  • Pollution of water from untreated mill effluent.
  • Unsustainable sourcing of fibre for mills.
  • Imports of pulp from countries causing deforestation.
  • Insufficient levels of waste paper recovery.
  • Wasteful paper use.

The CEPN is also working with the EPN and EEPN on a global project about paper linked to Indonesian deforestation. The aim is to limit the Chinese market for such paper. We are also working together on a global strategy to influence investors not to support unsustainable new pulp mills.

(1) Food and Agriculture Organisation Forest Products Yearbook 2011, p77.

One of the aims of the European Environmental Paper Network is to stop irresponsible investment in unsustainable pulp and paper mill developments. We co-ordinate the work of our member organisations who are engaging with investors and others in the financial world to ensure that their decisions are well-informed and take into account all the relevant likely impacts of developments, from their fibre sources to their human rights implications.

Our priority areas include scrutinising investment into Indonesian pulp developments, and engaging with the Chinese financial sector.

In early 2014 we held a meeting in the Netherlands to discuss campaign strategies among network member organisations. Around 40 people from 16 countries gathered and agreed to work together to communicate clear principles for avoiding irresponsible and risky investment in pulp mills. We also talked about several specific ‘dodgy deal’ mill proposals, around which some of our member organisations are running campaigns, in Indonesia, Australia and Russia. Since this meeting, we have become a formal partner of BankTrack and have established, with them, a working group on pulp finance.

Some relevant documents:
Pulp Finance strategy meeting summary
Letter to Export Credit Agencies about Indonesian pulp risks
Letter to Banks about investment in Asia Pulp and Paper’s proposed mill in Indonesia
Joint Statement from NGOs on Stopping Irresponsible Investment in Tasmania

Among the results of the EPN Milestones, is the Solution Working Group, where civil society organizations are discussing with APP about the implementation of its new policy and about meeting the EPN Milestones.


APP and the CSO Solutions Working Group (SWG)

The Solutions Working Group (SWG) brings together APP and its outside experts with civil society organizations working to conserve Indonesia’s forests and wildlife and secure community rights in an informal, non-legally binding forum. The SWG serves as a venue for addressing concerns on both sides and provides a mechanism for effective communication in relation to APP’s Sustainability Roadmap, Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) and the performance targets and milestones developed by the Environmental Paper Network (EPN).

As of 26 November 2013, SWG members were the following organisations:

APP and its partners:
APP/Sinar Mas Forestry
Robertsbridge Group

CSO member organisations:
Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
Wahana Bumi Hijau (WBH)
Environmental Paper Network North America and Europe (EPN/EEPN)

A public summary of SWG meetings will be made available, including on EPN’s website as well as on APP’s FCP dashboard.

Tips and Tools         Case Studies

Shrink Paper is a project of the European Environmental Paper Network, sister network to the Environmental Paper Network in North America, and with links all around the world. Together we have a Common Vision for Transforming the Pulp and Paper Industry. We believe this industry can be ethical and sustainable, but it isn’t there yet. We also believe that as consumers, we all have a responsibility not to be wasteful with this valuable material.

Since the 1960s, world consumption of paper has quadrupled and use of printing paper has increased six-fold. Just 10% of the world’s population (western Europe and north America) consumes more than 50% of the world’s paper. Europeans and Americans use 6 times as much paper as the world average.

Yet much of this paper use is wasteful and unnecessary and some of it is linked to human rights abuses, forest destruction, pollution and climate change emissions. Our paper consumption is the major driver of the forestry industry: half of the trees cut commercially around the world end up in paper products.

Paper use has increased most in the computer age despite technological advances like electronic communication, which should offer good alternatives. A staggering 45% of office-printouts end up in the bin by the end of the day they are printed: this isn’t just a waste of trees, it’s a huge waste of money.

It’s also unfair. The average European uses more paper in a day than people in poor countries get access to each year. If we want the many benefits of paper – books and education, information sharing and democracy, sanitation and safe food – to be available to everyone in the world without increasing production to unsustainable levels, it is up to people in wealthy societies to reduce wasteful paper use.

Reducing consumption of paper in Europe is a key priority of the European Environmental Paper Network. More that 50 non-governmental organisations, who make up the network, agreed this when we signed our common vision in 2006, and we reaffirmed this at our meeting in Portugal in 2012. We do not advocate the use of alternative materials to paper, unless they are proven to have a smaller ecological footprint, and we encourage all paper users to work towards all the goals in our vision.

The purpose of our Shrinkpaper  web pages is to draw together information, case studies, advice and inspiration to make it easier for people in all walks of society to cut wasteful paper use.

In 2012-13 we assessed 60 UK organisations on their paper efficiency and ran a series of events to highlight the link between paper use and climate change. See the results here.

Saving paper has so many benefits: you save money, you feel good and you tread more lightly on the earth.

One of the best things you can do to reduce paper waste at home is to take steps to reduce unwanted or ‘junk’ mail (scroll down for suggestions on how to Junk the junk!).

Other simple ways to save paper at home

  • In the kitchen, ensure you have plenty of washable cloths handy, and use them instead of
    paper towels or kitchen roll.
  • Use cotton handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
  • Keep one-sided printouts and mail and keep them somewhere handy to use as note paper.
  • Consider whether all the newspapers and magazines you buy are really being read, or whether you are getting this information online these days.
  • Ask your utilities and financial service providers to let you go paperfree, and receive your bills and statements electronically.
  • Try to choose food and other goods with little packaging.
  • When shopping, after buying something in a cardboard box, if you can, take your goods out of the package and ask the retailer to recycle it.

Junk the junk!

There are lots of websites for helping you to sign off junk mail. Here are just some:

If you know of a way to sign off junk mail in a country not listed above, please contact us.

You can also contact mail senders to take your name off their mailing lists, or mark unwanted first class mail ‘Refused, Return to Sender.’ For other country-specific ways to reduce unsolicited mail, search for ‘unsolicited mail’ in your search engine.

Saving paper in the office

There are many easy ways for individuals and businesses to reduce their paper use and costs. Reductions of 20% or more are possible in most offices.

Think before you print

The golden rule of saving paper is to think twice if you really need to print. If necessary, make sure you print on both sides. This is an easy way to reduce paper consumption by half.

Pushing the print button is too easy…and wasteful. So much paper is wasted by printing out single line e-mails or printing out unnecessary copies of documents. Smart printing tools like Greenprint can save tonnes of paper.

Businesses should carefully assess their needs before ordering bulk print copies of information materials, like annual reports or brochures. In many cases hundreds, if not thousands, of unused copies end up in storage rooms clogging up storage space.

Post in-house reminders

Post in-house reminders near copy machines or individual desktops using catchy slogans like: ‘Do you really need to print that?’ or ‘Do you know how many sheets of paper you used last month?’

Smart printing tips

  • Use both sides of the sheet of paper, whether for copying or printing.
  • Print only the pages you need by using the “Print Selection” function.
  • Print documents 2-UP or 4-UP per page for archival purposes and where possible. Customized software can increase the document-per-page capabilities of your printer.
  • Use the print preview function before printing any document to avoid copy-mistakes.


Track personal printing “footprints”

  • Create systems that allow staff to measure how many print copies they are personally responsible for each month. Most people are shocked to find out how much they use. This knowledge will motivate people to reduce their personal paper footprint.
  • By tracking individual printing quantities, staff will be able to measure changes over time. One way to promote less printing is by running in-house competitions for Paper Saving Champion of the Month. Whoever prints the least copies wins!


Set defaults on computers

  • Set defaults to print double sided. Select one-sided printing only when really needed.
  • Print double-sided for bills, applications, licenses and other paper-intensive activities.
  • If your printer cannot double-side then find out whether your printer can be fitted with a duplexing unit to enable it to print double-sided.
  • Make ‘rethink’ messages appear on screen when a print command is given.


Reduce print runs

  • Undergo an inventory to identify past printing jobs for which too many copies were ordered. This will help ensure that the quantity ordered matches demand for printing jobs in the future.
  • Publicize the results of your inventory in-house on the office notice board or in the company newsletter.
  • Create a checklist for those departments which order informational materials. The checklist should include
    1. How many required recipients and back-up copies are needed.
    2. Are you sure these target groups will need a hard copy of the report or is it enough to point them to a website?
    3. Do they need to be proactively sent the hard copy or is it sufficient to make it available upon request?
    4. Do you need in-house copies for all staff or can copies be held in communal areas/on notice boards?
    5. How many reserve copies do you require and why? For what events or purposes?
    6. Who will distribute or oversee the distribution of the reserve copies?


Review distributions lists frequently

  • Eliminate outdated or unnecessary recipients.
  • See if destinations with many recipients can make do with fewer copies.

Conduct paper-less meetings

  • When you hold a meeting, do you really need to have hard copies of preparatory materials available for each participant?
  • Encourage people to use their computers for reviewing documents and note-making.
  • Make sure meeting participants have electronic access to all the materials beforehand. Encourage those using computers not to print out copies. If you must, supply additional materials at the meeting. Consider burning CDs for all participants.
  • Make copies as needed rather than in large batches at one time. Frequently, extra copies of important internal documents become outdated quickly and only end up being discarded. Making copies as needed can reduce this problem significantly.


Paper is a really useful material at school, but it is still good to find ways to avoid wasting it. Many of the tips for offices (see here) apply to schools too, like not printing single-sided and using the blank side of waste paper for scribbling notes on. Teachers can take care to photocopy handouts efficiently, and pupils can make sure to use every page in a notebook. Sometimes information can be circulated to pupils and staff electronically, rather than on paper.

For a school project, why not watch all the many ways that paper objects are used over a few days, then try to find out how much paper is used by the school as a whole. If you do a school paper inventory like this, you will almost certainly spot ways that paper waste can be reduced.

If your school has taken steps to reduce paper use, we want to hear from you! Contact us.

Here’s a factsheet about how to save paper in school. A case study about Bradford University’s paper saving achievements is here.

The following handbook is written for use in adult education. It is a tool to set up lessons that teach on one hand about the origin of paper and on the other provide tools to create a plan to reduce paper use in the direct surroundings of the students.


To see our gallery of paper saving business ideas, click here. Or see our fact sheet of Top Ten Tips for Paper Efficiency. If your company has a good news story to tell about how you have reduced your paper use, we want to hear about it! Please send information to the Shrink Co-ordinator.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer has taken paper saving to the heart of the business

In 2013, we assessed 60 organisations’ paper efficiency policies and practices for the 2013 Paper Efficiency Scorecard. UK retail chain Marks and Spencer (M&S) came out top of the assessment with an overall score of 91%. What did M&S do to get such a high score and how can we learn from its success?

First, the company set bold targets to significantly reduce paper usage, e.g. a 25% reduction target in printer paper. It also set targets for outsourced supplier printing, something that few organisations do.

Second, the company made reductions across the business in different paper use areas, including printer paper (29% cut since 2009) and packaging (26% reduction in the same period).

In order to reduce employee printing, the company:

  • communicated the true cost of printing to staff and regularly engaged with colleagues and suppliers on paper reduction;
  • introduced technology so that reports can be viewed digitally (e.g. 1700 iPads were introduced to stores);
  • reduced the number of printers and ensured they were all duplex, and introduced ‘Green Print’ and ‘Pull Print’ systems.

To reduce paper used in packaging, the company:

  • signed up to WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment;
  • identified key areas where savings could be made;
  • focused on minimising write-offs of food packaging stocks;
  • simplified the number of packaging materials used and reduced their weights;
  • reduced home delivery and transit packaging;
  • increased the number of in-store products without any packaging at all.

Some of the other business paper savings have been achieved by taking advantage of new information and communication technologies, including:

  • electronic employee payslips;
  • social media for marketing new products rather than traditional print media;
  • engaging with customers through the M&S app and tailored customer emails, leading to a decrease in printed catalogues and magazines.

Overall M&S’s approach is very simple: clear targets that stretch the business enough to encourage innovation, clear communication amongst colleagues and suppliers, followed by implementation of new technology and monitoring of its progress. Its great reduction results show this approach really works when it is applied systematically across the business. [Source: Marks and Spencer]


Co-operative Group

The Co-operative saves millions by transforming office practices

The Co-operative Group has achieved astonishing paper efficiencies by transforming the way its staff work, encouraging new, flexible work routines that make the most of digital technology and release them from desk-bound paper-heavy information systems. They have encouraged their staff to ‘cleanse’ their work areas of paper, digitally archiving large amounts of material and reducing paper use in the organisation by a staggering 71%.

What makes the Co-op’s story even more amazing are the knock-on financial savings that this change has brought about. They have recently moved into a new building and their new paper-light office practices meant that they could reduce the scale of the building by one whole floor, saving them £20 million. [Source: Jazz Chana, Co-operative Group]



Phone company uses digital technology to cut printing by 80%

Vodafone secured top place in the utilities sector in our Paper Efficiency Scorecard in 2013, a whole 30 points ahead of the next best-performing telecommunications company. This is because of the dramatic paper savings it has achieved over the last four years. Despite being one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, its printer contractor now classes Vodafone as an SME based on the small amount of paper it uses!

It is not always possible to avoid printing but Vodafone makes sure all its employees keep it to an absolute minimum. Since starting to monitor paper statistics in 2008/9, Vodafone has been able to identify trends and areas for improvement. In three years they reduced usage from 33 million sheets of paper every year to just 6.5 million. That’s a reduction equivalent to more than 3000 trees. It also saved the company £3.5 million a year.

So how has Vodafone managed to make such significant progress in a relatively short period of time?

  • Running ‘A Page a Day’ employee campaign which talked about how much everyone prints and set a target of keeping it to just one page a day.
  • Bringing in ‘Follow me printing’ which means that nothing is printed unless an access card is swiped. Colour printing is also discouraged and printers automatically print double-sided.
  • Cutting the number of printers in offices to just one printer for every 125 employees, less than half the UK average.
  • Moving from desktops to laptops so employees are not tied to their desks. Vodafone’s policy of hot-desking, part of its ‘Better Ways of Working’ culture, means a strict clear desk policy and discourages employees from printing by not allowing any paperwork to be left on desks overnight.
  • Working with the top 25 biggest paper users to find ways they can change their printing behaviours.

There’s more work to be done before Vodafone can truly call itself a ‘paperless office’. The company has a target to reduce paper consumption by 80% (from their 2008/9 levels) by March 2014. It plans to continue regular employee communications and campaigns and, as a technology company, encourages employees to use tablets and laptops in meetings instead of print-outs. The culture of ‘Better Ways of Working’ provides them with the space and freedom to ditch the old and embrace a new, more sustainable way of working. [Source: Vodafone]


Standard Chartered Bank

Bank cashes in on paper saving opportunities, saving $10 million

Between 2004 and 2013, Standard Chartered has reduced its paper consumption by an impressive two-thirds, avoiding the use of tens of thousands of trees, and saving the company more than 10 million US dollars.

Standard Chartered Bank is a global bank with particular interests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It has over 1,700 branches, offices and outlets in 70 countries. It has been working on reducing use of office paper across its footprint since 2004 when it set its first reduction targets; these are updated every 3 years. Its current overall target is to reduce its office paper to 10kg per full time employee (fte) per year by 2020.

Part of Standard Chartered’s strategy to reduce paper use has included looking at the type and weight of paper used, aiming to ‘light-weight’ as far as possible. To facilitate paper reduction and ensure that paper is responsibly sourced the bank has devised a grading system for papers: Gold, Silver and Bronze. All three grades must be FSC certified. The Gold standard is FSC recycled paper and the lightest paper (70g). The Bronze standard is the heaviest (80g).

The Bank focussed on reduction of office paper by looking at where paper was printed most and who controlled its use. In 2009 a Group Technology and Operations Sustainability Manager was hired specifically to oversee paper reduction throughout the business. In each of Standard Chartered’s operating countries it has ‘Paper Champions.’ These are staff members who are passionate about the environment and on top of their daily jobs they come up with ideas to save paper. Every quarter the Paper Champions meet virtually together with the Sustainability Manager to discuss ideas and share best practice.

Other practical initiatives the bank has taken to reduce paper use include printing standards, a ‘Say No to Printing’ project and a competition to see which country performed best in terms of paper reduction.

This strategy is certainly working: In 2005 the bank’s paper use was 79kg per full time employee, while its latest figures show that this has reduced to 23kg/fte. Standard Chartered has therefore achieved a 67% reduction in paper use over the last eight years. In 2013, the bank welcomed its 3 millionth digital active customer. Today 54% of its retail customers receive eStatements, saving an estimated 16,000 trees and saving the bank US$10.8 million each year. In our 2013 Paper Efficiency Scorecard survey the bank was one of the highest-flying companies with an overall score of 89%.

[Source: Standard Chartered]


Post Office

The Post Office saves enough paper to go half way to the moon

The Post Office has been providing essential services to communities from tiny villages to large cities for almost 400 years.  With around 11,700 branches, the Post Office operates the largest retail network in the UK and every week around 18 million customers visit a Post office branch for postal, government, financial and telecoms services.

Even with ever increasing levels of automation, 18 million customers a week still means that an incredible amount of paper application forms, till receipts, labels, envelopes, product leaflets and brochures are used every day; on average about 3000 tonnes of paper each year. Reducing paper, reducing waste and ensuring that what paper is used is sourced responsibly is therefore important to the Post Office.

As a business the Post Office gets through some 20 million till rolls a year. By redesigning the way that customer till receipts print sales details a saving of some 750,000 rolls a year has been achieved which, if put end-to-end, represents over 149,000km of paper – enough to go half way to the moon!

With a product range of several hundred items, the Post Office holds vast numbers of pre-printed forms at main post offices and it is looking at reducing these by introducing print stations in main Post Offices where a customer can just select the form they require from a touchscreen menu and a copy is printed out for them. By holding an electronic copy of the form on a central server, this allows amended forms to be uploaded for instant availability with no reprint costs or waste.

[Source: Brian Glover, Post Office Limited]


Bradford Ecoversity

Paper Saving at the Bradford Ecoversity

In 2008, Bradford University made sustainability a headline issue with its Ecoversity Project, setting a target to cut paper use by 10% each year for 5 years. The project was championed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, which gave it the leadership essential to reach all parts of the organisation. Ben Tongue, Environmental Manager, said, ‘The paper saving aspect of the project was nice because it could include everyone in the University’.

Meetings with staff and students generated ideas for how paper could be saved across the University. These included a paperless admissions system, running paperless meetings, including paper saving measures in assessment guidelines, and a raft of technological fixes such as ensuring printers are set to duplex by default. ‘There were lots of great ideas, from very basic to high-tech,’ says Ben, ‘and we had good collaboration with departments to start putting them into action.’

The result was that in the first two years, the project targets were met, with A3 and A4 paper bought by the University reducing from 22.5 million sheets to 17.5 million sheets, saving £28,000 per year, plus the knock-on savings of less photocopying and printing, storage and distribution. Its central printing operation saw a reduction of 30% in the same period.

Much of these reductions were the result of a shift away from giving students handouts on paper, and instead giving them online access to learning materials. If students are printing downloads away from the University, then the absolute reduction in paper use may be less than that recorded, but if online billing is anything to go by, it is unlikely that this displaced impact is more than a fraction of the paper saved. Research into paper use by students (and staff) off campus would be necessary to ascertain this.

Unfortunately, since the sharp rises in student fees, the University’s senior management has refocused its priorities away from the Ecoversity Project and there are no longer any staff with a University-wide remit to pursue the paper saving initiative. As a result in the last couple of years, paper purchases have levelled off and the environmental and financial benefits have slowed.

If the project could be resurrected, there is clearly much more that could be achieved. Ben says, ‘We had materials, like documents about how to print most efficiently, which were never circulated, and ideas about how IT could set systems up to save more paper.’ Let’s hope they get the opportunity to continue what was clearly an excellent project.

[Source: Ben Tongue, Bradford University]


Paper Reduction at the RSPB

The Royal Society for Protection of Birds is Europe’s biggest environmental charity, with more than a million members. Its Human Resources Directorate (which includes functions such as training, personnel, etc.) identified paper use as a significant aspect of the organisation’s Environmental Action Plan. In team meetings, staff looked at the main uses of paper and worked out where they could eliminate and reduce usage.

The following changes were put in place:

  • The health and safety newspaper, which had been sent out on 4 or 5 pages of paper, is now sent electronically.
  • Payslips for more than 2000 staff every month are now sent electronically.
  • Staff are encouraged to use double-sided printing as default and to use print preview to reduce unnecessary printing, to only print key parts of emails to minimise paper use and consider alternatives before printing.

A baseline of paper use was set in 2012/13 and the initial figures for how quickly change is happening are very encouraging: there has been a drop of 4500 sheets – a cut of 22% – in just 3 months.

Other initiatives in the pipeline should reduce paper use even more. They are gradually shifting to an electronic personnel system, which will allow all recruitment paperwork to be done electronically, as well as staff sickness records and leave. They are also looking to replace the organisation’s varied collection of printers with fewer, more flexible printers with a locked printing facility.

The RSPB approach demonstrates three key principles – firstly getting staff involved in finding solutions to reducing wasteful paper use,  secondly identifying concrete and practical first steps to take, with, thirdly, monitoring in place so that success can be celebrated and built upon. [Source: Sarah Alsbury, RSPB]



FERN lives its forest conservation message

FERN is one of the EEPN’s member organisations, and after they signed our common vision they set about tackling paper use in their own offices. As well as encouraging others to reduce their paper footprint, they felt it was important to try to do something about their own. Their first steps were to reduce printing in the office and move to an electronic format Annual Report, reducing the printrun by 95% (from 1000 to just 50 copies).

Then they addressed their monthly news bulletin, Forest Watch, asking all its recipients if they would be willing to receive it electronically, rather than through the post. They pointed out that producing just one copy of each edition uses the same energy as leaving a 40w lightbulb on for 8 hours. Before they did this, they used to send out 800 paper copies of the newsletter. Since appealing for email addresses, they have only sent out 8 paper copies per month and the e-version goes out to 1,200 people.

This saves an estimated 440kg of paper each year. This is a modest amount, but if every organisation, large and small, was taking these simple steps, we would be well on our way to achieving our vision of halving paper use in Europe.



Patagonia Discovers Less Packaging Means More Sales

A major role of packaging is to signal to, attract and inform potential customers. Many food product labels are made of paper: sashes on tins, sticky labels on fruit, and the myriad cardboard packets that are used to conceal the cellophane-wrapped contents within, be they sausages or sweeties. Non-food products are also often wrapped in distinctive packaging, not so much to protect the contents physically, but for brand identification.

But in some cases, the packaging may be getting between the goods and the people interested in buying them, as outdoor-clothing company Patagonia found out. In the words of a Patagonia spokesperson: ‘In the early days of our base layer business, when we were still selling polypropelene, we packaged it in a plastic bag with a cardboard tag, which cost us 20 cents per unit. Next, we shifted to paper packaging, similar to a mini grocery store bag. Our environmental impact was lower, and the cost came down to 16 cents a unit. Now, with our Capilene line, we just roll up the bare garment and wrap it with a recycled cardboard card and two rubber bands. We call it the “sushi roll.”… It’s reduced our costs to 6 cents per unit and eliminated tons of waste. As an added advantage, the exposed packaging allows customers to touch the product, which has actually increased sales. Retailers thought it was going to be terrible: they told us time and time again that consumers would hate the sushi roll. But again, when you do the right thing, success follows.’

[Source: Dogwood Alliance]


Duchy Originals

Chocolate boxes go on a diet

Duchy Originals has produced a sleek new carton for its luxury organic chocolates, demonstrating that shrinking packaging volume by half can bring benefits for branding as well as financial and environmental savings.

Susan Haddleton, Duchy Original’s Head of Sustainability and Procurement, recently joined the Duchy team. She has an ideal back ground in food policy, sustainable development and food packaging. Shortly after joining she looked at the Duchy products with the notion “if products could talk, what would they say?” She knew immediately that she needed to be using a lot less resources to package the chocolate ‘bezants’ (large luxury organic chocolate coins) and that the paperboard that was used needed to come from sources she could trust. The existing paperboard packaging weighed 68g and it held 200g of product.

She contacted the carton manufacturer and started to look at options that would allow for lighter, more resource efficient, packaging. This included looking at different elements and designs within the trade as well as the manufacturer’s ideas on carton closure options. Susan then worked with a design agency to agree the carton shape and finer detail. She also worked with the chocolate producer, and Duchy’s own technical department to get further input.

The resultant carton is no longer rigid like its predecessor, which means it can be transported flat prior to filling. Previously the rigid container meant that a lot of air was being transported as well as the cartons! The new carton is also Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified under its ‘mixed sources’ label – the wood fibre comes from a mix of FSC certified and other controlled sources. In addition Duchy made a priority of choosing a UK-based carton supplier and a UK-based paper mill, Iggesund in Workington. The chocolate bezant packaging now weighs 26g and holds 160g of product. Weight for weight this is a 48% reduction.

Susan and the team at Duchy are viewing the new carton as a journey. They are learning along the way and see it as just one step on the road to greater sustainability. The carton can be improved further, says Susan, especially with regard to telling the sustainability story of the chocolate and a more premium unique carton profile.

Overall the product redesign meant Duchy not only saved paper but also had an opportunity for improving its branding and product information. The new packaging takes up less space on the shelf, allowing more product into the same space. The new look package helps to present the bezants as both a premium and a sustainable product.

In total, this single redesign has saved 8.9 tonnes of packaging, and we estimate that this means Duchy Originals has saved 231 trees, 890,000 litres of water, 58 tonnes of carbon emissions and 10.7 tonnes of other air, water and solid pollution.

[Case study material provided by Susan Haddleton, Duchy Originals]


Standard Life

Standard Life pledges to shrink paper by half

UK finance company Standard Life has committed to reduce its paper use by 50% by 2012, becoming the first company to make a pledge with the Shrink project. It has already made a cut of 23%, saving 320 tonnes of paper.

Standard Life’s consultation with its more than 1.5 million shareholders revealed that only 6% actually want to receive paper mailings.

Their paper reduction commitment is the result of an overarching environmental strategy to consume less, recycle more and dispose sensitively of what remains, and it goes side-by-side with other great environmental paper commitments such as using 100% recycled paper for photocopying and office printing and ensuring any non-recycled content in paper for marketing literature is certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Its paper cuts so far have saved, by our calculations (with all our usual caveats about approximates based on averages for the paper industry etc), the equivalent of more than 8000 trees, 32 million litres of water, 384 tonnes of air, water and solid pollution, and more than 2000 tonnes of climate change emissions.

So how has Standard Life achieved its paper reductions? Through a combination of reduced mailings and office efficiencies. A consultation with its more than 1.5 million shareholders revealed that only 6% actually wanted to receive mailings like AGM notices on paper and the rest wanted to ‘Go paperless’. The company has therefore been able to make big shifts to online communications.

To get office reductions they ran a company pledging scheme, whereby 700 employees pledged to ‘think before printing, if printing to print duplex and two pages to one side’. The initiative is supported by a Green Team whose members have communicated the message, and given practical assistance like helping staff to set up local printing functions to print duplex and supporting the implementation of new technologies. The company has both upgraded and reduced the number of printers, cutting the number by half and ensuring that all have duplex facilities and other environmental benefits like energy saving.

As well as the the environmental benefits, the result is a substantial saving in costs of paper, energy, postage and storage space.

(Case study material provided by Rachel Turner, Standard Life)


Littlewoods cuts footprint on the woods

Littlewoods, one of the UK’s largest and most well-known catalogue retailers, has saved 1.3 million trees in the past three years by reducing its paper consumption by more than 50,000 tonnes. The company has made drastic cuts, of up to 66%, in the volume of paper used to create catalogues. As well as making a huge reduction in its forest footprint this has also saved 5 billion litres of water, reduced paper-related carbon emissions by 315,000 tonnes and avoided 60,000 tonnes of other pollution.

The paper reductions have been due to a combination of factors, including a drive to shift purchasing online. Littlewoods’ parent company, Shop Direct Home Shopping Limited, has been rationalising to prepare itself for the 21st century and by merging the customer databases for several brands it now sends out far fewer catalogues by post. It has also cut the number of pages in its catalogues, reducing their weight. Its latest catalogue is smaller still and instead of including full details of goods it is a directory designed to point customers to the internet site. The company aims for 70% of its sales to be online by 2010.

(Case study material provided by Ken Roberts, CDMS Ltd)


IPC Media

Getting smart about magazine distribution

UK magazine publisher IPC Media has saved 9600 tonnes of paper – that’s almost a quarter of a million trees – in an efficiency drive that has slashed the number of unsold magazines.

IPC Media has many popular brands, including NME, wallpaper, Homes and Gardens, Woman and Home, Country Life, Marie Claire, The Field, Woman, What’s on TV, Nuts and Rugby World. More than 60% of women and 45% of men in the UK read an IPC magazine, most of which are supplied on a sale or return basis to retailers. Any unsold magazines are returned for recycling, but this wastes paper and is costly.

IPC set about devising efficiency measures in its supply chain, together with distributor Marketforce. These include computer models that can forecast sales more accurately and new technology for better print order planning. They have introduced sales-based replenishment systems to wholesalers and points of purchase, so the stock of magazines in shops can be topped up as needed, rather than overstocked just in case they might sell well. People are just as big a part of the measures as technology: they have put in place a dedicated team of supply and demand experts and worked on improving communication with their wholesalers and distributors, especially about magazine brands, so that everyone in the supply chain is better informed and able to avoid waste.

The results are impressive: unsold magazines have reduced by 16% since the end of 2006, with 30 million fewer unsold magazines, giving a total saving of 9,600 tonnes of paper. By our calculations (with all our usual caveats about approximates based on averages for the paper industry etc) IPC Media’s paper reduction has saved around 249,600 trees, 960 million litres of water, 11,520 tonnes of air, water and solid pollution and at least 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

(Shrink case study material provided by Adrian Hughes, IPC Media)



Sell more magazines, make less waste

Haymarket, one of the UK’s biggest magazine companies, has already cut office paper use by 33% since 2005, saving more than 26 tonnes of paper, and it is has set itself the target of a further 15% reduction in 2009.

The results of their efficiency gains are substantial money savings. Erica Okpokpor of Haymarket says: “Not only has the spend on paper reduced year on year but some of the reduction strategies implemented have generated secondary benefits, such as a reduction in the number of printers used, reduced maintenance costs on equipment, lower toner costs and the freeing up of valuable floor space.” This has included replacing desk-top printers with a central pool of printers set to print double-sided.

The spirit of efficiency is spreading from their offices to their core business. Although their aim is to sell more magazines, they intend to make substantial savings by making sure that they print no more than they can sell. Working with distributor Frontline, they have set a target to reduce their unsold magazines by 50%.

Barclays Capital

Barclays saves a packet by saving paper

Barclays Capital in the UK has saved £200,000 through office paper efficiency measures that have cut in-house paper use by 48.1%.

The cost savings include energy and toner reductions as well as the actual cost of the 20 million sheets of paper they have saved. This 90 tonne reduction is the equivalent of 2340 trees, nearly a million litres of water, 567 tonnes of CO2, and more than 100 tonnes of other pollution.

One of the bright ideas leading to the paper savings was to reformat internal investment presentations known as ‘pitch books’, from single-sided A4 to double-sided A5. In one year, this new format’s use in London saved 7.7 million sheets of paper! A further 3 million sheets were saved by reducing valuations mailed to clients from 14 to 5 pages, and contract note schedules from 20 pages down to 1 page.

Shifting to a managed print service has also brought about both paper and energy efficiencies. One of the technological innovations is the use of ‘PIN to collect’, whereby staff use a swipe card to pick-up printouts from central printers, thus both ensuring confidentiality and reducing waste from forgotten print-jobs.

Barclays has set a target to keep reducing paper use by 4% each year. Paul Baglin,Vice-President responsible for Environmental Management, says “Targets help to drive cost savings and operational efficiency, improve purchasing decisions and support and enhance our reputation as a company that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.”


Reducing the use of paper in packaging

Let’s make one thing clear from the start – the Shrink project is not advocating that companies should shift from paper to plastics or other materials, unless by doing so they can prove they have reduced their ecological footprint. We are keen to highlight cases where paper and board are used more efficiently to deliver the same or better functionality.

In Europe, 16% of paper and board is used for consumer goods packaging and a further 31% is used for shipping and packing. Therefore almost half of Europe’s paper use is accounted for by packaging. While packaging has many useful functions (protection, hygiene, branding, customer information) this utility is often very short-lived. There are therefore great opportunities for increasing efficiency, achieving the same functions with lighter weight and smaller boxes.

Our research into case studies shows that paper efficiency can lead to increased sales, more customer satisfaction and fewer product breakages, as well as environmental benefits – it’s all about  smart packaging design. To find out more, why not watch our Paper Efficiency Project (PEP) talk on packaging? This was a live online webinar on Wednesday 5 June 2013, 4pm GMT.  Contact us if you missed it and would like to watch it or download the slides, please follow this link.

Here are some examples we have found of companies finding efficiency measures that have multiple positive benefits: Patagonia and Duchy Originals


Our favourite tips for saving paper and costs:


Today’s information and communication technologies provide many opportunities for businesses to function with far less paper.

Thinner Paper

The thickness of paper we use makes a big difference both in terms of cost as well as the amount of paper used.

Re-use Paper

Tips on how to re-use paper and support recycling efforts.

Paper re-use tips

  • Use the blank sides of unneeded single-sided copies for printing drafts.
  • Use outdated letterhead for in-house memos.
  • Designate a printer for draft printing and use only used paper in its paper tray.
  • Set up office systems to pass reports around to multiple readers, rather than copying them.
  • Re-use envelopes by using address labels.

Support recycling

  • Make sure any paper you use has the maximal recycled content.
  • Collect waste paper and ensure that it is sent for recycling, not landfill.
  • Use paper that is easy to recycle. Avoid paper that has the following contaminants: thermal fax paper, glossy/plastic coatings, plastic windows, bright colours including goldenrod, laser printer inks and adhesive products.



Use paper more efficiently – save paper and money.

1. Copying double-sided saves 50%

Copying images on both sides of a sheet of paper can save up to 50% of paper costs. Copying images on both sides, or duplexing, saves money on paper purchasing, as well as on storage and mailing. Duplex copies are also easier to fold and staple. While some prints and copies need to be single-sided, most do not.

2. Computer default settings

  • Change your computer’s default settings so that you can put more text on each page.
  • Reduce margin widths. (In Microsoft Word, go to “File”, then to “Page Setup”. Then choose “Reduce the Margins” and set your margins to smaller numbers. Compared to the normal settings, with 1cm margins you could use up to 14% less paper!)
  • When you are printing, reduce font size to 10 point to decrease the amount of paper required.
  • Use efficient fonts like Times New Roman or Arial. These fonts use significantly less space.

3. Fax efficiency

Use your fax effectively

  • Send a fax or Word document without printing first! Simply use the menus in Word: choose “File”, then “Send to”, then “Fax Recipient”, and then follow the instructions. This allows faxes to be sent from computers without the need to print first. It also allows faxes to be received in an e-mail rather than printed copy format. Help on this should be available from your IT department.
  • When sending a paper fax, eliminate cover sheets and use fax stick-on labels instead.
  • Program your fax to eliminate confirmation sheets.

4. Image Reduction

Practice image reduction

The ability to reduce or enlarge images is common on copiers. Image reduction is also possible with printing.

  • For example, when copying a book, one can often get two original pages on to one side of the copied sheet. Because reduction works in two dimensions, you only need to reduce by 30% (to 70%) to cut in half the area of an image.
  • While reproducing entire standard pages requires a 35% reduction (to 65%), books often have smaller than standard pages and most documents have larger than necessary margins, so the reduction can usually be less than this.

5. Practise preventative copier maintenance

  • The ability to reduce or enlarge images is common on copiers. Image reduction is also possible with printing.
  • Keep copiers and printers in good repair and make it your company’s policy to only buy copiers and printers that make reliable double-sided copies.
  • Let your copier maintenance person know when a copier is performing poorly (toner is low, jams frequently, etc.). Regular copier maintenance is important, especially if the toner is low. Many times copiers are used until all the toner is gone and that wears down machines. A copier that works well is less likely to jam and this helps save paper!


Win £1000 for a great paper saving idea!

The Doreen MacIntyre prize is a chance for people in Scotland to win up to £1000 for a good idea about how to reduce paper use, or use paper more efficiently. Entries are welcome and the deadline is 31 March 2015.

Doreen MacIntyre was an internationally-respected expert on forests and other environmental issues whose most recent project involved encouraging the UK’s biggest companies and public sector organisations to use paper more efficiently. To continue the spirit of her work, Reforesting Scotland with the support of the European Environmental Paper Network, is offering a prize for the smartest and most practical idea to stop wasteful paper use, and with the prize money we will help you to make your idea a reality.

Paper and cardboard are the single biggest element of our waste streams, yet paper is a highly valuable material. To make a tonne of paper requires tonnes of other resources – not only trees and land, but also water, chemicals and energy. A recent study concluded that globally our use and disposal of paper causes more climate change emissions than aviation. Reducing paper consumption can help us to shrink our environmental footprints – and it also saves us money.

Are you a school pupil with a great idea for how your school could use less paper? A student with a wizardly technological innovation for paper efficiency? An office worker with a brainwave about how to reduce paper waste in your workplace? Or anyone else with a great idea for how our society can save paper? Taking part in this competition is a win-win situation as you can identify ways to save money whether you win the prize or not!

Please email up to 500 words about your paper-saving idea to by Tuesday 31 March to give yourself the chance of winning the funds to put your idea into practice. Simply explain how paper is currently used in your organisation (and, if possible, estimate how much you use per year) and how your much idea would save. Please tell us who would be involved in your plan and how the prize money would help you achieve it.

The ideas will be judged for being innovative, practical, requiring a modest investment, testable in a real world environment, and likely to achieve measurable reductions in paper use. There are two prizes of £600 each – one for children and one for adults – plus a £400 bonus for the ‘best’ idea. The prize money must be spent on making the idea reality (see Rules below).

If you want to discuss things before committing effort to a project, contact Mandy Haggith on


  1. Any individual or group of individuals of any age living in Scotland is eligible to apply.
  2. Entry to the competition is free.
  3. Entries describing the paper-saving idea must be no more than 500 words, emailed to any time before Tuesday 31 March
  4. The prize-winners will be notified by the end of April 2015 and the judges’ decision will be final.
  5. There will be two prizes, one for a child, group of children or school, and one for an adult or group of adults or adult organisation. Each entry should make clear which category it applies to.
  6. The two prize-winners will each win £600 to make the paper saving idea come true and there will be an additional £400 bonus for the best overall idea. The prize money must be spent on making the idea reality. Ideas that require no investment or less than the prize money are still eligible, and any money left over will go to a relevant good cause, such a paper project in a developing country or a tree planting scheme.
  7. The prize-winner agrees to their idea being promoted by Reforesting Scotland and the Shrink Paper project.
  8. The prize-winner may adopt a pseudonym or remain anonymous in publicity should they wish.

If you would like to support the Doreen MacIntyre prize fund, please send a donation by cheque to Reforesting Scotland, The Stables, Falkland Estate, Falkland, Fife, KY15 7AF.

For more information, contact Mandy Haggith, +44 (0)1571 844020


Paper versus Digital

One of the most promising approaches to paper efficiency involves shifting online, replacing paper applications with electronic, digital and virtual alternatives. There is huge scope for paper reductions, whether by replacing a catalogue with an online shop, using email instead of paper billing, advertising on the internet rather than in magazines or direct mail, and delivering all kinds of information, from news to literature to photographs, in electronic form. It is estimated by the Climate Group that digital applications could replace up to 25% of paper consumption (1).

Comparison of the impacts of paper v digital can be done either globally for the paper and information technology (IT) sectors as a whole, or by looking at the marginal impacts of particular products. Many studies look only at the climate change impacts of products, but life cycle assessment (2) should also consider other impacts, including volumes of material inputs, toxicity, energy use, water use, air emissions, water emissions, solid waste and recyclability. There are also social issues, not readily quantifiable, such as the impacts on the land rights and health of affected communities.

Looking globally, total annual sector CO2e emissions from paper are estimated by Climate for Ideas (3) as 2500 MTonnes (8% of global emissions) and from IT as 860MTonnes (2.7% of global emissions).

There have been several narrow studies of particular products, such as comparisons of paper books vs ebooks (e.g. (4)), which conclude that reading digitally is environmentally preferable to reading on paper.

Some studies give a threshold of the number of pages that need to be used on an electronic device beyond which it has less environmental impact than the equivalent number of pages of paper. For example, one study (5) sets this threshold at 5000 pages of uncoated woodfree paper. One source of guidance on accounting for the full climate change impacts of products is the World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol (6).

Full life cycle assessment comparisons are difficult because in most cases it is hard to compare like with like, as most IT equipment has many different functions with no obvious paper equivalent (e.g. tablet functions include clocks, music, videos, cameras, personal organisers and email as well as reading documents).

The climate change impacts of paper are dominated by the impacts during manufacture and disposal, with use having relatively low impacts. By contrast the impacts of IT are dominated by the electricity consumed during use (e.g the internet uses a vast amount of electricity). So industry comparisons of just the energy needed to use paper v IT give a distorted picture.

More research is needed to understand the significant environmental impacts and social justice issues from IT, including the use of rare metals and toxic chemicals in manufacturing and the handling of e-waste.

(1) The Climate Group (2008). ‘SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age.’

(2) European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment:


(4) Kozak, G, 2003. ‘Printed Scholarly Books and E‐book Reading Devices: A Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Two Book Options.’ See also the SYMPACT project, from Bristol University:

(5) Deetman, S. & Odegard, I., 2009. Scanning Life Cycle Assessment of Printed and Epaper Documents the iRex Digital Reader.

(6) Greenhouse Gas Prototcol.

Paper Utility

Download our factsheet here: Paper Utility Factsheet

You know you need to use less paper, but where do you start? Paper is used for so many different purposes it can be baffling to know where to focus efficiency efforts. The concept of ‘paper utility’ can help.

By analysing paper consumption in terms of both volumes and function, our Paper Utility Matrix can help you to work out which papers are really useful to your organisation and which ones are costing you money and causing most environmental impact, without actually serving a valuable purpose. This will enable you to target efficiency efforts without reducing the many benefits of paper for education, entertainment, commerce, health and sanitation.

What is paper utility?

The level of utility of different paper products can vary enormously. Some paper applications really enrich our lives and are durable, high-value objects – good books are the prime example. Other high utility paper objects include money, passports, maps,  birthday cards, toilet roll and school exercise books. These enhance the experience of particular individuals and benefit society in general.

By contrast, direct mail that is binned as soon as it is posted through the letter box, and thus gets the appropriate name ‘junk mail’, serves no useful purpose whatsoever: it causes irritation to the recipient and reduces the reputation of the sender, while also costing them money, and its environmental footprint, from the forest to the dump, has brought no value at all. Other low utility paper products include excess packaging, unsold magazines, and disposable objects like plates and cups used where reusable alternatives are feasible. Unfortunately many of these are produced, and wasted, in high volumes.

Our society will be a much better place, and our environmental footprints could reduce dramatically, when we eliminate low utility, high volume paper.

Paper utility resources

To find out more, why not watch our Paper Efficiency Project (PEP) talk on paper utility? This was an online webinar on Wednesday 10 April 2013, 4pm GMT.  Contact us if you missed it and would like to watch it or download the slides, please follow this link.

Which papers do you think are most useful? Take our paper utility survey here.

A Paper Utility Matrix factsheet is here: Paper Utility Factsheet

Click here to download our Top Ten Tips for Saving Paper.

In the Office
Individuals and businesses can easily reduce their paper use and costs in many ways. Reductions of 20% or more are possible in most offices. See more here.

At Home
Contact mail senders to take your name off their mailing lists, or mark unwanted first class mail “Refused, Return to Sender.” See more here.

In Schools
Paper is a really useful material at school, but it is still good to find ways to avoid wasting it. See more here.

Reducing the use of paper in packaging. See more here.

Paper Utility
Use paper more efficiently and save paper and money by understanding paper utility. See more here.

The European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN) is a civil society movement promoting sustainable practices in the pulp and paper industry. It is the European part of the Environmental Paper Network, which consists of more than 120 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 6 continents that are signatories to the Global Paper  Vision.

It is led by a steering group of representatives of the signatories (currently WWF, Luonto-Liitto, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, FERN, Denkhausbremen, Terra and ARA).

Our objectives are:

  • to share information about the pulp and paper industry and their impacts in Europe and beyond
  • and to promote the Global Paper Vision and its implementation by the industry, governments, financers and paper consumers.

The network formed through a collaborative process during 2005 to create our shared vision for a more sustainable paper industry. Our original vision was launched in Frankfurt in January 2006. The Global Paper Vision was launched in June 2014.

It has 7 pillars:

  1. Reduce global paper consumption and promote fair access to paper
  2. Maximise recycled fibre content
  3. Ensure social responsibility
  4. Source fibre responsibly
  5. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  6. Ensure clean production
  7. Ensure transparency and integrity

This evolving coalition is civil society’s response to the multinational structure of the pulp and paper industry and reflects a growing global concern about the rapid growth of the industry and its impacts on local and indigenous communities, on forests, biodiversity, air, water, landfills and waste streams, and on the global climate.

Any non-governmental organisation that shares our vision is welcome to endorse it and become part of this growing network of activism towards more sustainable paper production and consumption.

The member organisations currently serving on the Steering Committee of the European Environmental Paper Network are ARA (Germany), FERN (UK/Brussels), Naturskyddsforeningen (Swedish Society for Nature Conservation), denkhausbremen (Germany), Luonto-Liitto (Finland), Terra! (Italy) and WWF International.

                      luonto-liitto logo


Our members are all non-profit organisations working together to achieve sustainable change in the paper industry and to reduce paper consumption. They are either European organisations that have endorsed the Global Paper Vision or organisations that endorsed our earlier Common Vision for Tranforming the European Paper Industry. A full list of signatories of the Global Paper Vision can be found here:

Aetas, Russia
AK Regenwald Aschaffenburg, Germany
Amici della Terra, Italy
ARA(Working Group on Rainforests and Biodiversity), Germany
Arnika, Czech Republic
BankTrack, Netherlands
Bergwaldprojekt, Germany
Biodiversity Conservation Centre, Russia
Bond Beter Leefmilieu, Belgium
Boreal Forest Network, Canada
Borealis Center, Canada
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), Germany
British-Russian Ecocultural Network, UK
Bruno Manser Fonds, Switzerland
BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany, Germany
Buy Responsibly Foundation, Poland
Chlorine Free Products Association, USA
Climate for Ideas, UK
Denkhausbremen, Germany
Dogwood Alliance, USA
Down to Earth, UK
ECA Watch, Austria
Ecodevelop, Germany
Ecoinstitut Barcelona, Spain
The Environmentalists, Germany
Environment East Gippsland, Australia
Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonia
Estonian Green Movement/Friends of the Earth Estonia, Estonia
Euronatura, Portugal
FERN, Belgium
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Finland
Luonto-Liitto/Finnish Nature League, Finland
ForestEthics, USA
Forum Environment and Development, Germany
Forest Peoples Programme, UK
Forum on Ecology and Paper, Germany
Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland, UK
Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium
Friends of the Earth Finland, Finland
Friends of the Earth Forest Network (Melbourne),Australia
Friends of the Earth Scotland, Scotland
Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
GLOBAL 2000, Friends of the Earth Austria, Austria
Global Witness, UK
Greenpeace International
, Netherlands
Green Explore Society, Bangladesh
Green Watershed, China
Initiative 2000plus Berlin, Germany
International Animal Rescue, Malta
Kola Biodiversity Conservation Centre, Russia
Les Amis de la Terre, France
Legambiente, Italy
Look East Wild Earth, UK
Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth NL, Netherlands
Natur og Ungdom/Nature and Youth, Norway
Norges Naturvernforbund/Friends of the Earth Norway, Norway
Orangutan Land Trust, UK
PanEco, Switzerland
Papierwende, Germany
Polish Green Network, Poland
PRO Regenwald, Germany
Protect the Forest, Sweden
Quercus, Portugal
Rainforest Foundation Norway, Norway
Reforesting Scotland, Scotland
Robin Wood, Germany
Royal Society for Protection of Birds, UK
Safier, Belgium
Save the Rhino, UK
Soil Association, UK
SPOK, Russia
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden
Teachers for Forests, Australia
, Italy
, South Africa
Tropica Verde
, Germany
Ulu Foundation, USA
Urgewald, Germany
Wahana Bumi Hijau, Indonesia
WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Indonesia
Watch Indonesia
, Germany
Wetlands International
, Netherlands
, Scotland
WWF International
, Switzerland
Xeral de Verdegaia, Spain
Youth and Environment Europe, Czech Republic

EEPN Members By Country

ECA Watch Austria
GLOBAL 2000/Friends of the Earth Austria
Bond Beter Leefmilieu
Friends of the Earth Europe
FERN Safier
Czech Republic
Youth and Environment Europe
Estonian Fund for Nature
Estonian Green Movement/Friends of the Earth Estonia
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
Luonto-Liitto/Finnish Nature League
Friends of the Earth Finland
Les Amis de la Terre
AK Regenwald Aschaffenburg
(Working Group on Rainforests and Biodiversity)
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation
BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany


The Environmentalists

Forum Environment and Development
Forum on Ecology and Paper
Initiative 2000plus Berlin

PRO Regenwald

Robin Wood

Tropica Verde


Amici della Terra
International Animal Rescue
Greenpeace International
Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth NL
Wetlands International
Natur og Ungdom / Nature and Youth
Norges Naturvernforbund/Friends of the Earth Norway
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Buy Responsibly Foundation
Polish Green Network
Biodiversity Conservation Centre
Friends of the Siberian Forests
Kola Biodiversity Conservation Centre
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Reforesting Scotland
Ecoinstitut Barcelona
Xeral de Verdegaia
Protect the Forest
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Bruno Manser Fonds
WWF International
British-Russian Ecocultural Network
Climate for Ideas
Down to Earth
Forest Peoples Programme
Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland
Global Witness
Look East Wild Earth
Orangutan Land Trust
Save the Rhino
Royal Society for Protection of Birds
Soil Association

Non-European members

Environment East Gippsland
Friends of the Earth Forest Network (Melbourne)Teachers for Forests
Green Explore Society
Boreal Forest Network
Borealis Center
Green WatershedIndonesia
Wahana Bumi Hijau
WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia

South Africa
Chlorine Free Products Association Dogwood Alliance ForestEthics
Ulu Foundation


Mandy Haggith, Coordinator
Phone: +44-1571 844020
Address: 95 Achmelvich, Lochinver, IV27 4JB, Scotland, UK

Join a powerful movement
Become a member of the European Environmental Paper Network.

Plug your organization into a network of experts, resources, and a collective membership of millions of Europeans to power up your work for a more sustainable paper industry and reduced paper consumption.

  • All members are independent, not-for-profit, non-governmental organizations.
  • All members are signatories to the Global Paper Vision, or an earlier regional vision.
  • All members are working to advance at least one pillar of the Global Paper Vision.
  • No member is working against any part of the Global Paper Vision.

Get started and connect with an EEPN representative or endorse the vision online.



Mandy Haggith, Coordinator
Phone: +44-1571 844020
Address: 95 Achmelvich, Lochinver, IV27 4JB, Scotland, UK