Within the tourism and event industry, paper is used in the day to day activities: tickets, invoices, flyers and posters are distributed… Additionally, regardless of the sector, economic actors keep using paper in their office missions, despite the rise of dematerialised technologies. How can tourism & events professionnals reduce their negative impacts by avoiding, reducing, reusing and recycling their paper waste?
Paper is produced from cellulose fibers, mainly obtained from wood pulp and cotton.
- 100 million trees are destroyed each year to make junk mail.
- 14% of deforestation is done to satisfy our huge appetite for paper goods. This amounts to the destruction of around 4.1 million hectares of forest each year in the name of our paper obsession – an area the size of the Netherlands every 365 days.
- 230 kg of virgin paper consumed per person per year.
- 10 litres of water are used in the creation of 1 sheet of A4 paper.
Paper is one of the simplest products to find alternatives to and to recycle. By maximising our reuse of this material we can all reduce the number of virgin trees being felled to create new products.
Each ton of recycled paper can save 13 trees, 2.5 oil barrels, 4100 kilowatts of energy, and 31 780 liters of water.
Identify your main sources of paper waste: internal use (paperwork, invoices, reports…), external use (brochures, flyers, posters…).
Measure your current amount of paper waste and the progress you can make. Start by asking yourself: What is the average weight of paper waste in your office’s bins?
Read our article Measure and estimate your waste reduction progress.
#1 Don’t print!
Ask yourself: do I really need to print this information ?
Can digital communication replace it ? What about word of mouth ?
Possible if: your customers have access to Internet.
Don’t forget that although digital communication allows no physical waste production, it does have a carbon footprint.
Save money by reducing printing costs.
Not always possible.
- In the United States, paper receipts consume almost 10 million trees. But some companies, such as Decathlon, encourage its consumers to paperless payments and send invoice by email.
- The WWF has made a list of recommandations, including tracking printing footprint in your office, review the distribution lists, conduct paperless meetings, practice image reduction…
- Paperless Events provides a digital solution to paper need during festivals and events. Through a digital solution, organizers and participants can have access to all documentation and material needed for preparing and attending your event.
- Mailchimp, Split, Ticketree by eco-troop, social medias (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram…), the list is long !
Save money on paper cost. For example, 100 gsm paper uses and costs 20% more than 80 gsm paper.
Cost money: “sustainable” paper or other material (like stone paper) may be more expensive depending of countries and available providers.
Suppliers / Labels
- Look for the FSC, PEFC, APUR or European ecolabels.
- Check existing guides to understand the different labels and buy eco-responsable paper: such as WWF guide to buying paper (English, French and German), EcoFolio guide on environmental regulations and labels (French)
- Some brands specialized, such as Cyclus paper, Arjowiggins Graphic, or Schöpf Papier ; and most generic brands now have recycled paper (e.g. Clairefontaine Foreover brand).
#3 Expand its lifespan
Whether you are making posters for everyday uses (e.g. “bathroom → that way←”) or for communication purposes, make sure you are able to use them multiple times over the years.
Possible if: you don’t set a specific date or restrictive titles on the poster which would prevent reuse. Make sure to inform your volunteers or cleaning partners to not throw away paper in the trash after the event / at the end of the day.
Save money by reusing posters over the years (with often little changes).
Require anticipation: content on posters needs to be thought for long term use and printed on the appropriate format.
Use Canva to help you design (for free or cheap) great visuals that people will enjoy keeping.
Printastic is a banner supplier located in the United States, which provides a rental service targetting the real estate market. Many yard sign can indeed be reused for several locations, while only needing to change a small part of the content described (ex: phone number for a house for sale).
#4 Reuse old paper
Ensure you reuse your paper when you can. There is the obvious printing on both side, and to use waste paper as draft. And there are other practical uses, such as transforming used paper in sticky notes, cleaning paper for windows, or as packing material.
Possible if: Check the confidentiality of your documents… ! Adapt your printer surroundings: Prepare containers to reuse paper next to the trash, and set the printer to automatically print on both side
Save money by avoiding additional paper costs.
- WWF has measured that for a company of 5000 employees, by double-side printing for only 10% of their printing, they could save up to 260 000 US$.
#5 Upcycle your papery
Paper waste can be transformed into new objects, with creative purpose (gift bags, wrap paper, confettis…) ; decorations for your organisations, or even be the occasion for recreational activities (bookmarks, origamis, transformation in paper mache into bowls, hanging lights…)
Possible if: Make sure there is no toxic inks
Differentiate yourself with gift wraps and bags. An idea for new creative activities to offer to your visitors or clients ?
Require time: but that’s part of the fun !
- In 2015 the festival Coachella installed a pavilion created using over a ton of waste paper (transformed into pulp). After the event, most of the structure could be recycled or composted.
#6 Collect and recycle for a second life
Printed paper, cardboard, brown paper, glossy magasines can be recycled. Encourage your clients and colleagues to throw waste paper in the appropriate bin by raising awareness: paper can be transformed into fibers and recycled multiple times into new paper.
The most important thing is the lack of contamination (food, liquids)
Be aware that some contaminants might limit or prevent recycling, such as paper with plastic windows, thermal paper, photo paper or adhesive products. But on’t worry about clips !
Differentiate youself and build trust
by proving that you care about environmental issues.
Cost : will vary depending on your country-location and the quantity of paper waste you have
Require anticiation: set up clear procedures about collecting trash bins.
- Check you local regulation, recycling paper can be a legal obligation for companies, such as in France since 2016 with the Décret 2016-288 (« Décret 5 flux”)
- Check with local waste operators on how the procedures to recycle your paper and improve the collecting rate (sorting bins, frequency of collection…) (e.g. Papeco, Recygo, CELLOZ, SUEZ’s OneTwoTri … ).
- In France, you can ask advices regarding the sensibilisation of your clients and visitors to the associations AREMACS, Les Connexions, Gestes Propres.
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