carbon footprint of e-readers higher than print

Digital delivery of content for e-readers is a rapidly expanding market. Many assume that, because trees aren't being cut down and used to manufacture paper for books, e-readers (including the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and the like) are a greener way to read books and magazines. But a broader look at the use of these devices that includes the life-cycle of the e-readers themselves paints a much bleaker picture about how green they really are.


The article first looks at the carbon emissions for an average adult reader who reads 6.5 books per year. Paperback books have a footprint of 26 kilograms (over 57 pounds) of CO2, as compared to just under 70 grams (about 0.15 pounds) for the e-reader. But the tables are turned drastically when the carbon footprint of the reader is added in. The carbon footprint for this average reader is almost identical (130 kilograms or 285 pounds) when expanded over 5 years.

But how many people still use 5-year old electronic devices? Assuming a 2-year replacement cycle, the chart shows that the iPad carbon footprint outstrips that for the print reader, and even the more efficient iPad2 has more than double the emissions over a 5 year period. High-volume readers and those who hold on to their electronic devices for longer periods may make the e-reader a more suitable choice, but technological alternatives aren't always all their proponents would like consumers to believe. via EcoGeek.


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