The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the world to reinvent how it functions. We’re socially distanced, contact conscious, and paperless.
But even before the pandemic, we’ve been encouraged to save the environment by reducing how much we print.
However, the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa contends that we’re not saving the environment by not printing those work documents.
The association’s Samantha Choles says that this country has 850 million trees planted over 676 000 hectares. This makes up about 0.5% of South Africa’s land area. These trees are grown specifically for pulp and paper production.
Choles says that once these trees are cut for production, the area will be replanted very soon:
“While you may drive past a piece of land that has been recently harvested…within the next 12 months that area would be replanted. And that’s what gives paper its renewability, it’s a renewable resource.”
But the advancements in technology means that our lives are digitised, even our books are electronic. And the paper mills have had to adapt. They’re converting machines from printing to packaging grades.
So we may be using more boxes with our reliance on on-line shopping, but the drop in demand for office paper means a large chunk has been taken out of the need for local production.
Choles says that there must be a mind-shift in how the consumers interact with paper, or the impact will be felt “along the value chain – from forestry (the tree growers) and paper mills to printing companies and media houses.”