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Paper reduction

Why reduce paper use?

Sourcing: Deforestation due to paper sourcing impacts the environment because forests store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases. Additional impacts include:

  • Destruction of natural ecosystems.
  • Diminished habitats for plants and animals.
  • Elimination of old-growth forests.
  • Energy consumption from logging.
  • Reduced water quality.
  • Soil erosion.

Overall, sourcing raw materials to create pulp causes great environmental damage.

Manufacturing: An array of chemicals are used to process fibre into pulp, resulting in pollution to the land, water and air. Manufacturing paper is also energy- and water-intensive.

Disposal: Paper in landfills creates methane as it decomposes. An estimated 25 per cent of all landfill waste is from paper products.

Save money: Over time, the cost of paper and paper product usage adds up. It costs money and space to file paper documents, and documents can easily be misplaced. These documents can all be stored on the Ontario Tech network. Sending documents electronically saves the cost of the paper, and the cost of postage and mail. Outdated forms are a large source of waste for many organizations. If possible, submit forms electronically and print only when needed.

For more reasons on why you should reduce paper, see The Environmental Sustainability of Paper.

How can I reduce my paper use?

Think before you print:

  • Ask yourself if you need to print.
  • Avoid unnecessary copies. Do an inventory to identify past printing jobs for which too many copies were ordered.
  • Check your mailing list to ensure names are not listed twice.

Use paper more efficiently:

  • Default to double-sided.
  • Reduce the margins.
  • Reduce the font size.
  • Print only the pages you need.
  • Use fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial, which take up less space.
  • Use Print Preview before printing documents.

Use technology:

  • Use electronic means to communicate.
  • Use on-screen editing features to make changes to draft documents.
  • Hold paperless green meetings.
  • Write notes and lists on your phone.
  • Read books and newspapers online.
  • Adopt electronic forms.
  • Collaborate with colleagues using a shared network drive or program such as Google documents.


  • Recycle the paper you have.
  • Reuse when possible if you only printed on one side.
  • When you buy paper, make sure it is made from recycled content.

Paper facts

  • Approximately 324 litres of water is used to produce one kilogram of paper.
  • Although paper is traditionally identified with reading and writing, communications has now been replaced by packaging as the single largest category that uses paper. Packaging accounts for 41 per cent of all paper used.
  • Recycling 54 kg of newspaper will save one tree.
  • Paper and paper products accounts for more than one-third of all of Canada’s waste.
  • Canada uses six million tonnes of paper and paperboard annually. Only one-quarter of Canada’s waste paper and paperboard is recycled.
  • Paper manufacturing is the third-largest user of fossil fuels worldwide.
  • Recycled paper requires 64 per cent less energy than making paper from virgin wood pulp.
  • When paper rots or is composted, it emits methane gas, which is 25 times more toxic than carbon dioxide.

What the university is doing 

We are transitioning our paper supply to only recycled-content and wheat-derived products. Step Forward paper is 80 per cent tree-free wheat-straw, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified, and 100 per cent committed to a better planet. The paper is made from leftover wheat straw and does not impact the food supply chain. It is recyclable, biodegradable and compostable.