Tag Archives: Paper

Green Business Innovation : Offices can now print on a E-paper and save forest.


Architects typically work with large-format drawings on 24 by 36-inch or larger paper. Most architectural firms have their own large-format printers or plotters to print and copy computer-generated drawings. Architects and construction houses waste a lot of paper. Even when they design a LEED building. Because the way most of them work is not sustainable at all, this I covered in my earlier article, Green Buildings – How most of them are really made, the inside story.

The reason for this is simple. The corporates which run these architectural houses are mostly developers who have become so callused by the “system” which runs India, that they have lost the perspective of good and bad. For most of them Sustainability is another “task” and “Green norms” are an impediment which they need to give a lip service too. Thus one would see, even for a small correction or revision, entire design sheets are printed, minimum 3 prints of size A -Zero.

Since trees come in all different sizes, it is difficult to estimate how much paper comes from one tree, however according to one paper manufacturer, a cord of wood measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet produces nearly 90,000 sheets paper. Taking the last census report, India’s total population was around 1,20,00,00,000. If every Indian save one sheet of paper a day approximately 15,000 Trees can be saved. If 15,000 Trees can be saved just by not wasting one sheet of paper a day, imagine of how many trees can be saved if we become more  prudent in our approach.

Let us consider some interesting facts which I have gathered from various sources –

1. Consider this: according to the state government of Australia, over 600,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard are sent to landfill in NSW every year. Australians as a whole use 210,000 tonnes of office paper each year – and much of this is not from recycled sources but from virgin forests.

2. In the USA The average student uses about 11 sheets of paper per day. The school year goes on average 180 days so this would equal to 23,760 sheets for 12 years.

3. A Seattle based study found that businesses typically throw away about half of all documents within 24 hours of printing. In fact, about 170 tons of paper is sent to Seattle’s landfills each day from Seattle businesses.

For every dollar spent on printing documents, companies typically incur $6 in handling and distribution costs, according to a Xerox study.

Over the course of a year Seattle paper waste contributes about 9,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as the emissions from consuming 972,000 gallons of gasoline. 

This is a study by Xerox of one American city, in India and rest of the developing world we do not have such studies done or reports published. Simply because we do not think this as a problem which needs urgent and immediate attention.

But such problems can not be defined locally any more. The devastation in Japan  a year back has come to haunt the American West coast in form of  Billion ton of debris. Similarly the decimation of rain forests for pulp & paper industry would lead to unprecedented challenges more severe than what we have experienced till date and it would not be their locally. This is known to all, yet we fail to arrest easily achievable targets, such as reduction on dependence on Paper. We all know by now that it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to have a paperless office/school . But how much paper do we consume unnecessarily? It is no more possible to contain the problem by raising ones personal bar as to when one needs a paper copy of something from the computer. Strong legislation are required which would make it near mandatory that unless you′re printing something super important,(which can be defined and refined on a weekly/monthly basis by each corporation) one must  save ink and paper by tracking changes in electronic documents.

To make this legislation work, one must however understand the fundamental barrier. We still like to hold up a piece of paper in our hand and look at it from time to time, jot notes directly at the margins, rather than type for every little corrections. Moreover, for architects and other engineering professionals, physically scanning the page from top to bottom, is more sure-fire way to spot  an error than scrolling a large drawing and zooming in and out of it. It simply does not work ! I know that from personal experience. So how does one adhere to reduction of paper use and not face the cumbersome process of electronic tracking on a small computer screen ?

The answer lies in using something with is instantly portable, transferable, editable and yet not a traditional paper. E-Paper ! Yes, something which was born in the 1970’s has matured enough to be taken seriously. The first flexible EPD for consumers could be available in Europe in 2012 itself.

This is one of the spectacular proof that, it is the Business and Industry which will finally be the torch bearers of abatement to Climate Change and Global Warming. And innovation should get support from all quarters to survive the vagaries of market forces. And ones which are as important as Saving forest and whole eco-system the Governments should support it. But before we put some thought as to how we can support and grow such ideas let us understand what it is –

Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane.

Electronic paper display (EPD) is often considered to be more comfortable to read than conventional displays.This is due to the stable image, which has no need to be refreshed constantly and has a wider viewing angle. An ideal e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image appearing to fade. The contrast ratio in available displays as of 2008 might be described as similar to that of newspaper, though newly-developed displays are slightly better.There is ongoing competition among manufacturers to provide full-color ability.
Applications of electronic visual displays include electronic pricing labels in retail shops, and digital signage,time tables at bus stations,electronic billboards, mobile phone displays, and e-readers able to display digital versions of books and e-paper magazines. Electronic paper should not be confused with digital paper, which is a pad to create handwritten digital documents with a digital pen.

What an innovation. A genius of the human brain which can bring about sea change in the way we work. Tied to a e-book reader, a tablet, a computer and a smart phone, this was perhaps the penultimate tool, which can eliminate maximum use of paper; before we can adopt interactive projections in thin air in front of us, as shown in Sci-fi cinemas and is  some more time in becoming a reality for common persons to have.

So what could be the immediate uses, other than being another TV or a display kiosk? To my mind it can be used for printing architectural drawings, and each of these sheet can be reused till the final design to be produced is readied. And only those need be printed. Sure there would be trials and errors but human always find methods if there is a will. It could also act as submission sheets during class tests which are held with regularity in schools to prepare children for their annual and mid-term exams. The data can always be transferred into flash -drives for storage, thus refreshing the sheets for reuse, while still retaining record of previous data. Perhaps News corporations could devise ways where one could download the “News Paper view” form e-papers which already exist in the web and in fact they can rent out the flex-sheets, and charge as they would for the subscription. It is common knowledge that  amount of pulp that required daily to publish news papers are humongous.

But, as with Renewable Energy, such high technology would come at a price which would not be within reach of the common person. And here the Governments, guided by the UNEP and other responsible organisations like the World Bank, World Resources Institute, Climate Action International, Green Peace, Carbon Disclosure Project etc should come together to focus in finding the right financial instruments which would help scale it and make it affordable. In fact small amounts from those that are pledged under various programs to arrest deforestation and abate climate change could be pooled to make such innovations; I’m sure many more equally important are around the corner; a success.

In fact if the news paper readers from world over could just contribute $1 the amount would be huge, and in the bargain the Earth would gain.

Courtesy:,,,,, wikipedia



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A Few Sustainable Life style the Gen-Next should work on.

On 10th September, 2005, Gordon Brown said the high price of fuel posed a significant risk to the European economy and to global growth, and urged OPEC to raise oil production. Again, six months later, he said “we need . . .more production, more drilling, more investment, more petrochemical investment” (22nd April, 2006).

However,one of his more recent initiatives, namely
the promotion of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is a good part of a plan for getting off fossil fuels.

Electrification of most transport is a path to a safe  and long future of Human kind and the future of this World. The faster more Nations understand and adopt it the better it would be for the reduction of pollution in the local context and Global Warming in the long run.

However, Electric or Hybrid vehicles alone can not solve the problem which threatens us towards Extinction. For that we have to look into the life-style of the modern human closely and discuss chapter & verse. Through this book I’ll try to open up the discussion to peers and readers so that by Rio+20 enough noise is created by it to warrant discussions, but most importantly make the youth of today sit up and look for the answers, as its they who would shoulder the burden of the past generations mistakes.

Let’s begin by listing some of  the symbols of modernity –

1. Soap;

Until the early 1900’s, much of the soap used was made at home. Fats from cooking and butchering were saved until there was enough to make a batch of soap. This all changed in 1916 when a shortage of fats (a main ingredient in soap) occurred during World War I. As an alternative was needed, enterprising companies developed the first synthetic soaps called detergents.

In 2008 Greenpeace showed the World how Unilever the maker of beauty soap Dove was systematically destroying the rain-forest of Indonesia. By planting hectare after hectare of palm-oil plants which provide the basic ingredient for the soaps. The Orangutang – a monkey species unique to that part of the world is in the verge of extinction. And in the process the complete rain-forest. Which would lead to further disturbance in the delicate Climate balance of the world.

Lets understand how –

When scientist choose an animal for conservation, say the Tiger, the project by default saves the complete Eco-system of that area. A carnivore like the Tiger requires to kill and eat. Its prey are the herbivore like Deer etc. Now the Deer/ Buffalo would need grass/vegetation and lots of it as the population ratio between a Tiger & Deer as a rough guess would be 1:100. Now, for a good vegetation we would require the right bio-diversity. From the Earthworm to the Birds, each have a specific role to play; from pollination to digestion of decayed leaves which then releases precious Nitrogen vital for plant growth.

So when you save a Orangutang or a Tiger you are directly saving the whole Eco-system, alternately when we hear about the danger of extinction of such primary species, you can bet your last dollar that the complete habitat destruction of millions of  plants and animals have already taken place.

We can not live our life without soap, but can we find an alternative way to produce such products ?

2. Toilet Paper;

This is a life – style which needs serious thought, lets look into the source of paper for the toilet paper –

“Tissues, toilet paper, and other disposable products are responsible for unspeakable destruction of ancient forests around the world. And, in today’s New York Times, tissue maker Kimberly-Clark (K-C) has probably given us a bit more information than they meant to about the extent of the destruction they’re causing despite their green claims.” …the company used 3,113,000 metric tons of virgin fiber in 2005, an increase from the 3,067,000 metric tons of virgin fiber used in 2004,…this amounts to over 435,820 metric tons of Boreal pulp used by Kimberly- Clark in a single year,…they’re cutting down ancient boreal forest, a 10,000-year-old ecosystem. Blogpost by lindsey – February 26, 2009 at 12:01 ( Green Peace USA ).

Worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper.  “While the paper industry often touts plantations as the solution to creating an ongoing supply of virgin pulp and fiber, these monocultures often displace indigenous plant and animal life, require tremendous amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and soak up large quantities of water.  the  World Watch magazine.

Although I would not like to comment on the matter of which is better, washing with water or swiping with a piece of paper; for me water wins hands down when it comes to the three R’s of sustainability – Re-cycle, Re-use & Re-new. And with this I am not just talking of saving just the 10% of the 270,000 trees but all of it which require a serious look and determined practice of the 3 – R’s mentioned.

3 Plastics ;

Today, plastics frequently replace most traditional materials such as wood, metal, glass, leather, paper and rubber because they can be lighter, stronger, corrosion resistant, very durable and a better insulator. These properties often make plastics more economical to use than other materials. They are used throughout industry and business; they influence the way we dress, the way we enjoy ourselves and the way we live. Many plastics have become household names – nylon, polyester and so on… Plastics can be produced from oil or gas that has undergone chemical processing, and consists of synthetic polymers. Certain types of plastic are suitable for packaging (25% of the US plastic
production – 37% of the European plastic production), others for building and construction (22% in US – 20% in EU), and others for toys and medical stuff (13% in US – 9% in EU), transportation (5% in US – 7.5% in EU), furniture (4% in US – 3.5% in EU), electronic stuff (4% in US – 7.5% in EU) etc.

As is evident from the above paragraph, the modern Human is surrounded by plastic. In fact I’m able to write this article on my lap top which is also made of plastic component and the optic fibers which connects me to the world-wide web would also be a form of plastic.

Crude oil is used in plastic making as main raw materials. 1 litre of petrol (0.76 kg) needs approximately 0.9 kg of crude oil, with 1 kg crude oil counted for 44 MJ/kg. Considering that the crude oil production report does not consider the oil used for plastic making and the oil used as energy in plastic plants (what is improbably), the net heat generation is 0.6 1014 kWh to 2000 and 0.77 1014 kWh to 2004. Considering the worst case of energy consumption versus different plastic making, i.e. PP energy consumption, the net heat generation is 0.46 1014 kWh to 2000 and 0.59 1014 kWh to 2004.  The net heat generation from the use of crude oil in plastic making is roughly 0.4.1014 kWh from 1939 to 2000. It corresponds to 1.3% of the missing heat and contributes to 0.5% of the global warming. Its contribution is about the same magnitude than the gas flaring, less than the impact of nuclear power, and more than coal fires. (!/plastics%20-%20final.pdf )

As one can see that the impact to global warming is more than coal, however the point I would like to make is that is derived from Crude oil. At the end of 2010, world proven crude oil reserves stood at 1,467,012 million barrels, of which 1,193,172 million barrels, or 81.3 per cent, was in OPEC Member Countries. ( )

If we continue to follow the life-style we have without finding alternatives we would be using up this reserve to continue making plastic, electricity, gas for our automobiles and with each liter used increase the level of Green house gas.

Only with the above 3 examples I have tried to show how the modern Human is creating immense pollution, I’ve yet to document our use and extraction of Metal, Cement and other daily use materials which are so common and easily available that one hardly spends time to understand the enormous festering wound it is creating on the bosom of Mother Nature.

What is required from the Gen Next is a firm approach towards understanding the dangers they are inheriting and mend the ways with some short-term compromise to the life-style for a long Sustainable Future! It would not be easy but it would also not be impossible for Man is an inventor. And when it’s very own existence as a being comes into danger, he will and must adapt.



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