While most people might not think so it turns out, according to the Cleantech Group, that the Amazon Kindle may end up being more environmentally friendly than paper books.
After examining all the existing studies in order to do a lifecycle analysis the group found that carbon emissions from electronic books is far lower than your traditional book publishing. In light of the fact that e-readers aren’t typically marketed as being a sound environmental alternative to books that impact is becoming a topic of conversation.
According to Emma Rich, the person behind the study, when you take into account the manufacturing and mining needed to produce an electronic e-reader like the Kindle it gets a significant edge over the paper version.
“The roughly 168 kg of CO2 produced throughout the Kindle’s lifecycle is a clear winner against the potential savings: 1,074 kg of CO2 if replacing three books a month for four years; and up to 26,098 kg of CO2 when used to the fullest capacity of the Kindle DX. Less-frequent readers attracted by decreasing prices still can break even at 22.5 books over the life of the device,” she [Emma Rich] wrote in conclusion.
Source: cnet – Green Tech :: Study paints Kindle e-reader a dark shade of green
While there are some that will argue that the environmental impact needs to take into account the increasing cost of electronic waste as we constantly upgrade to newer gadget. The Cleantech Group suggests that the e-reader industry could help make a significant impact once people become more accustom to using them rather than relying on paper.
As Martin LaMonica notes in his post though it all boils down to how the e-reader is used.
If a person continues to buy books and print periodicals and doesn’t recycle the product, the environmental impact could potentially be negative, according to this study.