How is Paper Harmful?

paperless office hand

How is Paper Harmful?

Paper is a necessity in many office circumstances. A cheap commodity, it is made out of one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. However producing paper does come with an environmental cost. Below we highlight why paper is harmful to the environment and how you can reduce paper consumption.


Over 6.5 million trees were cut down in 2006 in order to make less than 50% of the paper cups used in the US. And with 46-58 thousand square miles of forest lost each year, at the current rate of deforestation, it is estimated that the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in a hundred years. As trees play a key part in absorbing the greenhouse gasses that drive global warming, deforestation also drives climate change. Fewer forests mean that larger amounts of greenhouse gases are entering the atmosphere – and as a result, speed up the impact of global warming.

Paper Production has adverse effects on the environment

The process of turning trees into paper is not an easy one. Papermaking is an intensive process that releases harmful chemicals into water. It takes over 40 chemicals – such as chlorine and magnesium hydroxide – to turn that rough, brown tree into the smooth white paper you know. And of course those chemicals are pumped out by paper mills every single day, contributing to air, water and land pollution, and as a result add to global warming just like any other pollutant.

Paper in landfill

Despite recycling having increased over the last couple of years, millions of tonnes of recyclable paper still end up in landfills. In fact, it’s estimated that the average UK family throws away six trees’ worth of paper in their household bin a year – all of which could be recycled with very little effort. And did you know that the methane produced by landfills is 21 times more harmful than c02?

Paper recycling

So recycling is the answer? Not necessarily. While it is more environmentally friendly then sending your unwanted paperwork to landfill, however the recycling process itself still produces a lot of pollutants. From the exhaust fumes roaring out of recycling lorries, to the energy used at recycling plants, the whole process is still very harmful for the environment.

Reducing paper consumption

Document scanning is the perfect way to start reducing your paper consumption and making your office or workspace completely paperless. It may seem like a big change at first, however you’ll soon realise that going paperless has numerous benefits for you and your business, while also helping to reduce the environmental impacts of paper consumption.

Find out more about how a paperless office can benefit you by reading our blog The Common Benefits of Paper Free Processes.