[LINK] Environment department used 30 sheets of paper per person per day

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Sat Jan 31 08:55:10 AEDT 2009

At 09:06 AM 28/01/2009, Jon Seymour wrote:
>Elimimating waste is, of course, worthy, but one suspects that the 
>environmental footprint of a netbook over its lifetime (3 years) is 
>greater than 65 reams of plantation derived paper ...

Yes, if staff were given an netbook in addition to their usual 
computer, that would increase the environmental footprint. But what I 
had in mind was the netbook replacing the worker's desktop or laptop 
computer. This would have a smaller footprint, even without the paper saving.

A smaller computer would be easier to take to meetings. Back at their 
desk, the worker could plug it into a large screen and keyboard, 
providing an adequate desktop computer (with the corporate data and 
applications safely held on remote servers).

If it was inconvenient for the staff to carry their computers, the 
meeting room could be permanently equipped with computers. This would 
have the environmental advantage of allowing mains power to be used, 
in place of battery power. Rather than netbooks, nettops might be 
used for the meeting room: small desktop computers with low power 
processors. The new MSI WindBOX looks good for this, as it can be 
mounted on the back of an LCD screen, so the table doesn't become 
cluttered with equipment: 

Assuming that each seat in the meeting room would normally consume a 
ream of paper a day, then a computer lasting 3 years would replace 
about 780 reams of paper (1.7 tonnes). The environmental impact of a 
small computer is probably less than a tonne of paper.

For a better estimate of environmental effects of computers versus 
paper, a "Life Cycle Assessment" would be needed. The Sixth 
Australian Conference on Life Cycle Assessment is in Melbourne from 
16 to 19 February 2009 and there is a free workshop on the first day: 

ps: This all, of course, assumes people still go to meeting rooms to 
have meetings (and work in offices). If they remain at their desks 
(wherever their desks are) and use the computer for an online 
meeting, they are more likely to use electronic documents, as they 
already have a screen in front of them and have to send people 
documents electronically.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  

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