Helsingin Sanomat has investigated the emissions of greenhouse gasses of the printed daily newspaper and the Nyt supplement. The carbon footprints were calculated "from the forest to the customer", including the emissions from newsprint production, printing and transport.
The survey, carried out in co-operation with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, shows that one copy of Helsingin Sanomat and the Nyt supplement creates about 185 grammes and 75 grammes, respectively, of greenhouse gasses (CO2 equivalents).
"One printed copy of the newspaper delivered to your home generates roughly as much carbon emissions as driving one kilometre in your car or reading the online paper for thirty minutes," says Marketing Director Caroline Lilius from Helsingin Sanomat.
Comparing the carbon emissions of the printed paper with the emissions from digital media is difficult, since the emissions are generated at different points of their life-cycles. Most of the emissions of the newspaper relate to the production of the paper it is printed on and the electricity consumed in the printing house. The emissions relating to digital media originate from, for example, the electricity running the computer, the communications infrastructure and the servers for the website.
The calculations for Helsingin Sanomat are based on a VTT (previously KCL) study of the average carbon footprint of a Finnish newspaper. For calculating the emissions of Helsingin Sanomat newspapers, information was gathered from paper mills, printing houses and various databases. The calculations disregard emissions arising after the newspaper has been read.
"Establishing the carbon emissions of our printed papers is one of the ways in which Helsingin Sanomat supports sustainable development. Now that we know the sources of greenhouse gasses in making the paper, we can pick the right measures needed to cut the emissions," Lilius says.
"What becomes of the paper later increases the carbon footprint somewhat. By recycling the paper, the reader can contribute to keeping the emissions of the newspaper's entire life-cycle to a minimum," Lilius points out.