Reinventing Business Cards: Environmental Perspectives

Each year 100 billion business cards are produced worldwide leading to the potential loss of approaching 6 million trees. Perhaps more shocking is the fact that within a week after receiving a business card, almost 90% of them are thrown away. Some of these cards will be recycled, but many will find their way into landfill.

42% of wood harvested globally is used to make paper, often leading to deforestation and habitat destruction. The use of so many trees to make paper is of major concern since 50% of all terrestrial carbon is stored in trees – making them a crucial buffer to ward off climate change.

Additionally, old-growth and older second-growth natural forests store significantly more carbon than newly-planted forests, and are often much more biodiverse than plantation-grown timber forests – often referred to as ‘Sustainable Forestry’.

These are thoughts that few of us will have when we add yet another business card to our collection.

Environmental Impacts of Business Cards

Paper production is one of the most resource-intensive and polluting of all manufacturing industries with emissions to the atmosphere and water bodies, including bleaches and dioxins that are harmful carcinogens.

In the United States paper manufacturing uses the largest quantity of process water per unit of final product with an astonishing 324 litres of water being required to make 1 kilogramme of paper.

The adverse environmental impacts associated with paper include other negative externalities such as energy consumption in transport and handling and after use in the waste management process. Paper comprises 50% of business waste, 33% of municipal waste and 25% of waste going to landfill.

In a landfill, paper decomposes releasing methane gas that is over 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2.

More than 6 million trees are cut each year to make 100 billion business cards worldwide

Michael Brabham

Michael John Brabham is a Chartered Landscape Architect and a general Environmental Consultant with over 30 years of experience in landscape and urban design, project management, market research and business development. He is the Managing Director of Envirosphere, which is based in the UK.

Michael has supported numerous environmental and social projects and enterprises in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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