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Old 12-04-2007, 01:50 PM   #1
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Environmental study: 30 min of e-paper reading = 30 mins of print reading

A new study by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, "Screening environmental life cycle assessment of printed, Web-based, and tablet e-paper newspapers," examines the environmental impact of e-paper versus the process of creating paper-based newsprint, and proclaims that reading e-paper for 30 minutes equals the environmental impact of producing paper for a 30 minute read. It also suggested that reading the same content on the web would have the same environmental impact after only 10 minutes.

The study took into account the full process of preparing paper for reading, including harvesting, processing (which includes significant chemicals and electricity), transportation, and of course, disposal, and compared that to the process of manufacturing an e-paper reader (which can be reused... length of life also figured into the equations).

(Report in PDF, English: http://www.csc.kth.se/sustain/publications/reports/)
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Old 12-04-2007, 01:55 PM   #2
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Interesting, but i assume, this will change in the future.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:08 PM   #3
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Interesting, but i assume, this will change in the future.
The article I read (about the study) suggests that, as manufacturing processes become more efficient and costs come down, e-paper should be even more environmentally friendly down the road.
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Old 12-04-2007, 04:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for the link. The first assumption that jumps out at me is a one year life for the e-reader (Iliad in this case, see 2.3.2 on pg 32).

That is an awful assumption. It should have been at least two years and possibly three. While they note the desirability of new units, how many of people trade up $300+ readers annually? I'd be willing to bet the center of our distribution is at least two years. They at least consider the possibility of longer life (pg 95).

The other assumption is the environmental impact of specific electrical energy consumption. This one was closer to truth but if we wanted to lower that impact tremendously we could increase nuclear power production. I see that as a necessity anyway to power near-future all-electric cars. Hybrid cars are a stop-gap not an end.

One thing is certain, printed newpaper environmental impact cannot drop by as much as the electronic techniques they are comparing it to. I understand their objective (clear to me) was to point out misconceptions about how "clean" electronic distribution is but I feel they bent too far the other way.
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Old 12-04-2007, 04:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the link. The first assumption that jumps out at me is a one year life for the e-reader (Iliad in this case, see 2.3.2 on pg 32).

That is an awful assumption. It should have been at least two years and possibly three. While they note the desirability of new units, how many of people trade up $300+ readers annually? I'd be willing to bet the center of our distribution is at least two years. They at least consider the possibility of longer life (pg 95).

The other assumption is the environmental impact of specific electrical energy consumption. This one was closer to truth but if we wanted to lower that impact tremendously we could increase nuclear power production. I see that as a necessity anyway to power near-future all-electric cars. Hybrid cars are a stop-gap not an end.

One thing is certain, printed newpaper environmental impact cannot drop by as much as the electronic techniques they are comparing it to. I understand their objective (clear to me) was to point out misconceptions about how "clean" electronic distribution is but I feel they bent too far the other way.

Exactly! I fully expect to use my Cybook Gen3 for three or more years and will probably hand it over to a friend when I *DO* upgrade. Which means it will be probably be useful for 6 or 7 years. Given that life span, the 'footprint' of my Cybook will be about as much as that of 5 or 6 minutes worth of paper product. Bad study. I bet if we dig further we'll find the funding for this study was ponied up by the paper-products industry.

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Old 12-05-2007, 12:03 AM   #6
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I bet if we dig further we'll find the funding for this study was ponied up by the paper-products industry.
Naah... the paper products industry would've simply pointed out all the rare and toxic metals used in electronics manufacture, and claim the e-book readers were wasting vaulable resources and poisoning us...
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:47 PM   #7
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Thanks for the link. The first assumption that jumps out at me is a one year life for the e-reader (Iliad in this case, see 2.3.2 on pg 32).

That is an awful assumption. It should have been at least two years and possibly three. While they note the desirability of new units, how many of people trade up $300+ readers annually? I'd be willing to bet the center of our distribution is at least two years. They at least consider the possibility of longer life (pg 95).

The other assumption is the environmental impact of specific electrical energy consumption. This one was closer to truth but if we wanted to lower that impact tremendously we could increase nuclear power production. I see that as a necessity anyway to power near-future all-electric cars. Hybrid cars are a stop-gap not an end.

One thing is certain, printed newpaper environmental impact cannot drop by as much as the electronic techniques they are comparing it to. I understand their objective (clear to me) was to point out misconceptions about how "clean" electronic distribution is but I feel they bent too far the other way.
No kidding! Considering people still use PC's they've had for 8-10 years, it's a foolhardy assumption to even suggest people would be dumping their eInk device in a year for an upgrade. I still know people who use VHS tapes, though not too many use cassette tapes. Secondly, when people do upgrade these devices, they won't be going into landfills but will be handed down to children, grandparents or possibly donated to the needy.

It's a good study in that it places the environmental impact quite low, but I don't agree with some of the premises. In the end eInk will be probably surpass dead tree books, though if you consider that the physical media this stuff will be stored on will last ages more than paper, I could be wrong. Thanks for the review Steve!

<rant>It kinda reminds me of a recent study done in England that suggests shift or night-shift workers are more susceptible to cancer than day workers. They failed to produce enough info on this to indicate their test base, jobs interviewed, work conditions, hereditary conditions, etc. Guess you prove any point you like if you load it with only the facts you want to consider and ignore the rest.</rant>
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Old 12-05-2007, 04:08 PM   #8
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<rant>It kinda reminds me of a recent study done in England that suggests shift or night-shift workers are more susceptible to cancer than day workers. They failed to produce enough info on this to indicate their test base, jobs interviewed, work conditions, hereditary conditions, etc. Guess you prove any point you like if you load it with only the facts you want to consider and ignore the rest.</rant>
It kind of reminds me of a book I read years ago entitled "How to lie with statistics." One of the items that I like to quote is: "Figures don't lie but liers can figure."

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Old 12-06-2007, 01:26 PM   #9
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The 10-minute figure for the PC seems ludicrous. Is that assuming you only bought the PC for reading your newspaper and you turned it on solely for that? Most people I know that read the news online do it on a break while at work. The PC would be there and on regardless.
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:53 PM   #10
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Dale, isn't that quote attributed to Mark Twain?
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:20 PM   #11
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The article I read (about the study) suggests that, as manufacturing processes become more efficient and costs come down, e-paper should be even more environmentally friendly down the road.
Also as more trees are removed "permanently" from the face of the Earth, paper will become more costly.

The real solution is to eliminate newspapers!
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:39 PM   #12
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It kind of reminds me of a book I read years ago entitled "How to lie with statistics." One of the items that I like to quote is: "Figures don't lie but liers can figure."

Dale
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Dale, isn't that quote attributed to Mark Twain?
I think Twain said "There are liars, damn liars, and statisticians," but I don't know about DaleDe's quote.

I do have it on good authority (from a statistician) that 87% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:51 PM   #13
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I'm about 17 months into my 1st Iliad and hoping to get between 5-7 years out of it. There are two things that would change my time frame, one is a failure that has a high cost to repair so that a repair makes less sense than a new reader, or a major breakthrough (primarily a fast color e-ink or high quality screen device w/long battery life & maybe internet access) available before the, erm, 7 year itch.
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:55 PM   #14
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I do have it on good authority (from a statistician) that 87% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
Shouldn't that be "approximately 87%"?
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Old 12-06-2007, 05:04 PM   #15
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