SustainableWWW Logo
Blog post image

Ditch paper manuals and use digital manuals instead

For many years we as consumers have received a paper-produced manual with almost every product that we’ve bought. Many of these manuals contain between 100 and 500 pages depending on the product and if you take a moment you will realise that it requires tons of wood to fill the demand.

In this article we will address the possibility of ditching paper manuals and instead make use of digital manuals.

How many paper sheets comes from one regular sized tree?

It’s hard to calculate exactly how many paper sheets that comes from one regular sized tree since all trees are different and the type of paper plays a significant role. By researching we came to the conclusion that 500 sheets of paper will use approximately 5% of a regular sized tree. With that calculation we can assume that one tree will produce approximately 10.000 sheets of A4 paper.

The math above is not precise, but to put our words into perspective; a ton of newspaper paper requires approximately 12 regular sized pine trees and a ton of magazines paper using coated quality paper requires approximately 15 regular sized trees. This means 2 million trees felled every day and yearly about 4 billion regular sized trees.

Paper manuals are outdated and bad for the environment

For many years “we” as consumers have received paper-produced manuals with almost every product we’ve bought. Every manual required trees to be felled so that the paper sheets could be produced and if you are like the majority then you have never even looked at the manual before using the product. If that’s the case, then the manual would have been a waste and the world would have been better off if the company would have reconsidered the production of the so-called manual and their distribution plan.

Manuals comes in many sizes, but most tend to contain between 100 to 500 pages. The size of the paper sheets are about half of an A4. From that knowledge we can assume that a manual containing 500 pages requires approximately 2.5% of a regular sized tree. To put this into perspective; One 500 pages manual together with each of 200.000 products would require approximately 5.000 trees. About 5.000 trees felled for manuals that will most likely never even be opened.

Digital manuals is the future

You can always get into a situation where a manual would come in handy. It might be knowledge about certain features or maybe specifications about electricity, and because of that we don’t think manuals should be removed from the products completely.

We suggest switching to digital manuals in PDF format. The manuals would be available from the manufacture’s website and easily accessible by searching the product. You could also print a single paper containing a QR code that you put together with product. This way the consumer can scan the code and be redirected directly to the manual. By using this method you would have reduced the amount of paper from 100-500 pages to only one single paper.

When switching to digital manuals you will not only lower your overall paper use, you will also lower the total weight of each product. Lowering the weight can lower your transportation cost when carriers ship your products from the manufacturer to the stores and it would also lower the amount of gas used by the vehicles. Switching to digital manuals would be better for the environment both by lowering the use of paper and by helping to reduce gas consumption while transporting your products. Making the switch doesn’t require much, save your manuals as PDF documents and make them available on your website instead of printing them. A change like this cannot be made alone, but together it would take us a big step closer to making the world more sustainable.