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in Health, Technology

What is the Dark Side of Print and Digital Publishing?

The controversial topic of print and digital publishing has been an ongoing debate for years. Both methods can be harmful to the environment due to the unawareness of the disposal process of print and digital publishing.

How Is Paper created?

Since paper’s creation, the construction process has been misunderstood. Paper is nothing more than a dried compressed mat of plant fibers. To create paper from trees, the raw wood has to turn into pulp. According to  How Do You Make Paper From a Tree, “ The more commonly used method is chemical pulping, also known as “kraft.” Chemicals are used to separate lignin from the cellulose fibers, leaving a pulp mixture that can make stronger papers.” Once the pulp is finished preparing, it is placed in a roller machine to form paper.

Steps of Papermaking  

  1. Headbox: The soggy wet mass of pulp starts off here. It could be a mixture of wood pulp and recycled paper fibers.
  2. Mesh: Sometimes called the Fourdrinier table or wire, this is where most of the water from the pulp is removed and the paper slowly starts to form.
  3. Suction boxes: While some of the water drips through the mesh, more is removed by suction boxes (a bit like box-shaped vacuum cleaners designed to suck up water).
  4. Dandy roll: This large roller puts a watermark, pattern, or texture on the paper.
  5. Felt belt: The forming paper runs over a rotating felt belt that mops away further moisture.
  6. Dryer: The paper loops back and forth over more felt rollers and heated dryers.
  7. Calenders: The rollers at the very end smooth the paper, so it’s of completely uniform thickness.
  8. Paper roll: The paper is all finished and ready to use.

Is Print Harmful?

Print publications take a significant toll on the environment. In one year, the United States produces over 2 billion books. As a result, more than 32 million trees are burning to produce printed books. One tree can conceive 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,888.3 sheets.

Sora Davidson explains,

…the print industry is also one of the main contributors to the negative state of the environment as we know it today. There are many key environmental issues caused by the print industry. These include and are not limited to: air pollution, handling and disposing of hazardous materials, waste management, and energy use.

Trees hold a significant contribution to filtering out the air and absorbing odors. The printing industry tears down the filter by having to burn the trees, which causes air pollution. As a result, about 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide is being released back into the atmosphere.

Throughout the print industry, the toxic level of materials used is at an all-time high. Materials such as ink, fountain solution, solvent, and photographic chemical waste are hazardous to the health of the environment. According to Aaliyah Madadi, writer for Resource Hub, “printed books have the highest per-unit carbon footprint – which includes its raw materials, paper production, printing, shipping, and disposal – in the publishing sector.”

What is Digital Publishing?

Many people would probably assume that digital publishing emerged from the World Wide Web, this assumption would be wrong. Digital publishing was actually created b on July 4, 1971, by Michael Hart when Project Gutenberg began. The meaning of Digital publishing means different things due to people’s different perspectives. According to Digital Marketing Defined , “The use of digital technology to replace written material so that it can be disseminated and accessed through computerized electronic devices.”

Examples of Digital Publishing

  • Articles
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Blogs
  • Advertisements
  • Company Reports
  • Catalogs
  • Newsletters
  • Magazines
  • Advertisements

Benefits of Digital Publishing

While using digital publishing, the use of toxic chemicals is reducing. This method produces with speed and better quality. Therefore, digital content can always be issued out to the world at any time. If online publishers find errors such as incorrect dates, typos, or invalid information, editing and updating the content is easily able to achieve.

Ebooks Save Millions of Trees (Links to an external site.), “ In the USA in one year, 2 billion books are produced. To get the paper for these books requires consuming 32 million trees. We can estimate that one tree yields enough paper for 62.5 books.” Digital Publishing saves energy in book productions. As a result, money and fuel can be collected from not having to produce and ship books to other states and countries.

Is Digital Really Green?

Pro-print argues that the e-waste arising from digital publishing is harmful to the environment.E-waste holds toxic materials containing heavy metals, that can soak into the ground. Eventually, the e-waste can get into groundwater supplies affecting land and sea animals.

According to Madadi

  … while the creation of digital publications eliminates the destructive component of straining environmental resources, concerns are related to the CO2 emissions that occur during the manufacturing of technological products. Studies show that it is indeed tougher on the environment to create an iPad rather than printing a book, but the paper and water saved from reading content on tablets make up for the initial CO2 emissions. 

The estimated waste stream as of 2018 is 48.5 million tons. For instance, the more individuals buying electronic equipment, the more e-waste is growing.  E-waste has become the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. The electronic industry is continuously making new technology adds to the e-waste because the lifespan of electronics is short. Electronic devices such as computer equipment, stereos, televisions, and cellphones are apart of the contribution to e-waste.