Once the processes for the printed CEAS Annual Report and an electronically distributed version were charted (refer to figure 1) and data assembled, the team utilized the online environmental input-output life cycle assessment (EIO-LCA) tool in modeling both the traditional print and an electronic distribution of the report. College and UC Printing staff provided data on preparation, production, distribution and management time commitments and expenses. These were then combined with industry norms and consumption estimates within the EIO-LCA model to project performance… The results were dramatic!
After adjusting for inflation (the EIO-LCA tool is based on 2002 industry data tables), all parties involved (CEAS, UC Printing and the US Postal Service) realized a savings of more than $41,000 on just the annual report. Based on a 34 page full color report sent to 34,000 people, the environmental impact is every bit as dramatic due to not using paper, inks, and physical distribution of printed copies. Among the savings are:
· 33,000 pounds less greenhouse gases,
· 72,000 less KWh of energy,
· 230,000 less gallons of water,
· 79% less toxic pollution to humans
· 73% less toxic pollution to the ecosystem occurred.
Clearly, electronic distribution for what has historically been the province of print media is not only a more cost effective but more environmentally friendly and sustainable approach to publishing the college’s message and performance data. However, is the audience ready for an electronic only distribution?
The answer appears to be a “qualified yes.” However, if just 7.5% of those receiving the electronic version decided to print a copy at home most of the environmental benefits listed above disappear. Savings realized by the college are more than offset by printing expenses borne now by the college’s alumni and friends should just 25% print the report.