PaperCalculator 2.0: An even more robust tool for managing paper

EDF recently enhanced one of our most popular resources for companies: PaperCalculator.org.

Now fully updated with the latest scientific information, it is a robust tool for understanding how different paper choices affect the environment – whether you want to know how many trees were spared by reducing paper use, or the energy savings from choosing recycled content versus virgin.

Random House, Staples, PepsiCo, Wells Fargo and Starbucks, among others, have used PaperCalculator.org to manage their paper purchases. In total, the tool saw 27,000 uses in the past year.

So what’s new with version 2.0? We updated national recycling rates, electricity and grid information, and now include the production of fillers and coatings to more comprehensively address the full lifecycle of paper. We also changed one of the metrics from “total energy” to “net energy” to reflect energy that is created by burning paper – or the methane that decomposing paper creates – at the end of its life.

What does this mean for your calculations? The table below compares the latest version of PaperCalculator.org with the old, based on the results calculated for 100 tons of office paper (known in the paper world as "uncoated free sheet"):

Papercalculator.org comparision (1.0 v. 2.0) graph

As you can see, recycled content remains the most environmentally preferable option. While the difference in net energy decreased due to the increased efficiency of virgin pulp mills, for example, recycled content still enjoys an advantage over virgin pulp.

While we’ve updated these numbers with the best available industry data, it’s important to remember that these are industry averages and any individual paper supplier’s numbers may be higher or lower. To understand your suppliers, check out our paper supplier evaluation form and start asking questions.

If you want to know more about the science behind the calculator, check out our Paper Task Force Report and White Papers on several of paper’s environmental impact areas.

Ready, set… calculate!