Zambia and paper

Posted: 11 September 2006 in Paper consumption, USA, Zambia

Two photographs: one of massive overconsumption of paper and one of a desperate need for paper.

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The photograph on the left is from a 2003 article about the New York Times from Stora Enso’s in-house magazine Tempus. “The magnificent New York Times takes space and time to read through,” the article gushes. It’s the world’s thickest and heaviest newspaper and “with it comes a bunch of advertisements that take a free ride with the paper”. Every Sunday 1.6 million copies are distributed. If one issue of the newspaper is laid out on the ground the paper covers an area of 53 m2.

The other photograph is taken by Nicky Winble of Oxfam and scanned from the Guardian Weekly. It shows schoolchildren in Zambia making notes in the sand during a botany class because they have neither pencils to write with nor paper to write on.

Paper consumption per capita in the US is 312.08 kg/yr. In Zambia it is only 0.67 kg/yr (figures are for 2004). On average, someone in the US uses 465 times as much paper as someone in Zambia.

The pulp and paper industry is interested in producing more and more paper – but only for those that can afford to pay for it.

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