Popular environmental impact estimator aims to drive innovation in paper use and purchasing
An improved web-based Paper Calculator, launched today by the Environmental Paper Network-North America, will provide tens of thousands of annual users with new information and features to help them measure the impacts of their paper and reduce that impact through better choices.
Paper Calculator version 4 is the most comprehensive update of this tool to be released. It delivers more expansive environmental impact categories including additional pollutants and new biodiversity and ecosystem impacts, for a total of 24 indicators in all. It provides more accurate climate change reporting and has been updated with the latest paper industry and life cycle assessment data from trusted sources. Additionally, the new calculator covers an expanded range of paper grades, and now includes the growing sector of tissue products.
This new version is powered by a next-generation life cycle assessment that continues the tool’s legacy of innovation in the field. These updates reflect a multi-year effort by experts from leading environmental groups, such as Canopy, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and Conservatree, as well as representatives from academia and business, including the University of Southern California and Kimberly-Clark Corporation. The process was facilitated by SCS Global Services, a leading third-party certifier and standards developer.
“These important LCA updates will not only help users make even more informed choices about paper products than ever before, but also set a new benchmark of transparency for other product sectors,” said Keith Killpack, SCS’ Manager of LCA Services. “We congratulate the Environmental Paper Network for its continued leadership in support of responsible sourcing.”
The Paper Calculator’s user experience has also been enhanced. Like the earlier version, version 4 is easy to operate and can be used to generate custom reports. Version 4 also provides users with new resources, such as detailed descriptions and common product examples of the paper grades included, a feature to calculate the weight of a user’s copy paper using the number of reams or sheets, and improved transparency via a new resource document that details the calculator’s methods.
Global paper consumption is steadily increasing, and North Americans consume more paper than anyone else in the world. Packaging and tissue products are driving growth, and while replacing single-use plastics with paper is currently trendy, it creates more pressure on forest ecosystems. Reducing our impact on the planet is critical, and awareness and measurement are key pieces of the puzzle.
The Paper Calculator has been used by companies, communities, schools, non-profits and other organizations for many years to understand, track and reduce the impacts of their daily paper use. This powerful but simple tool can be used to calculate the impacts of paper use or the avoided impacts from reducing paper consumption. It can also compare a number of different papers and paper types with varying amounts of recycled content, to determine the environmental savings of different choices. Users can create easy-to-read reports to help them make better paper choices and measure the results.
“With its improved user interface, advanced analytical features, and enhanced data outputs, the new Paper Calculator will make it even easier to measure the benefits of better paper choices,” said Kim Porter, the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator manager. “This new version makes a good tool great by integrating feedback from the thousands of organizations that have used it over the past thirteen years.”
The Paper Calculator has a long history as the most comprehensive resource for calculating and comparing the impacts of paper products. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released the original Paper Calculator in 2005 and managed the tool until 2011, at which time it was transferred to the ownership of the Environmental Paper Network. Thousands of high-profile companies and organizations utilize the calculator and cite its results, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Toyota, Adobe, Sprint, Patagonia, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Bloomberg and many others.
“The Paper Calculator is a brilliant tool that has enabled us to help our clients quantify substantial environmental savings by comparing different paper types,” said Oliver Bradley, a sustainability consultant with TBL Services. “Thanks to the Paper Calculator, we have calculations to support initiatives involving large, global brands and household names, that encourage them to switch to sustainable alternatives. The Paper Calculator has also helped our clients develop sustainability targets related to paper consumption, which is invaluable and will create lasting, sustainable change.”
The Paper Calculator receives support from its “Power Users” which are entities that value the calculator’s usefulness, independence and information, and provide financial support so that it can continue as a free and independent online resource for all to use. Power Users include business and non-profit sustainability leaders such as Numi Tea, Green America, Lexmark and Hemlock Printers, as well as several paper companies including Cascades, Mohawk, Monadnock, Neenah, New Leaf and Rolland.
Jane Franch, Director of Quality, Sourcing & Sustainability at Numi Organic Tea, shared the company’s logic behind using the Paper Calculator: “Delivering our premium organic teas in mindful and ecologically responsible packaging has always been a priority at Numi. The Paper Calculator helps us to validate, measure and communicate the impacts of our decisions. We appreciate the scientific rigor behind the model and the ease of use, making it a reliable tool to confidently frame external communications.”
Karen Cook, Sustainability Project Manager at the County of Alameda in California, said that the County uses the Paper Calculator to measure and make better paper choices. “At Alameda County, we approach environmental purchasing from a perspective of buy less, then buy better. For copy paper, this means implementing a wide range of initiatives to reduce our total use by 30% over a 7-year period and switching to 100% post-consumer recycled content paper. The Paper Calculator has been a great tool to highlight how small changes in the way we use paper can add up across all our departments to make a big difference for the environment. This helps motivate everyone from employees to County leaders to continue to support these efforts.”
To learn more about Paper Calculator version 4, visit www.papercalculator.org
The Environmental Paper Network is an alliance of over 140 non-profit organizations working together towards the Global Paper Vision. This vision expresses our common goal to create transformational change in the pulp and paper industry and wider society, so that paper production and use contributes to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for life on earth. For more information visit environmentalpaper.org.