Less paper goal of campus-wide initiative

by Andy Poon
Staff writer

With the much ballyhooed paperless workplace yet to materialize, UBC's Sustainability Office has set out to reduce the more than 100 million sheets of paper that are used each year on campus.

As part of an overall effort to reduce waste and energy use throughout the university, an initiative was started last fall to reduce printing and copy paper use by 20 per cent over the next five years with a 50 per cent reduction over 10 years campus-wide.

"Paper is one of the biggest resources that flows through the campus," says Freda Pagani, director of the Sustainability Office. "There's a perception that paper is very cheap so we can waste it. Printing out e-mails and multiple drafts of documents is common practice."

Paper makes up over half of the waste discarded at UBC. Estimates of the ecological impact of the university's paper consumption are staggering.

As many as 8,435 trees or the equivalent of all the trees on campus are used each year for paper at UBC. Thirty tanker trucks of oil, or about 755,066 litres of oil are used to make the paper. Close to 38.3-million litres of water and enough energy to power 316 homes a year are consumed to make a year's supply of paper for UBC.

"In the materials category, paper reduction is a major first step to reducing waste on campus," says Pagani.

This fall, the Economics and Political Science departments will test a paper-saving program in which students can either buy or sell articles they no longer need for a price less than the photocopying costs.

The Sustainability Office was created in May 1998 to develop ways to minimize air, water and soil pollution at UBC. To help foster an environmentally responsible campus, waste and energy reduction plans are being developed and implemented throughout the university by the office.

To help implement the sustainability policy throughout UBC, representatives from each department are being trained to serve as liaisons with the Sustainability Office.

These sustainability co-ordinators will eventually replace the volunteer recycling area monitors and Go Green transportation co-ordinators across campus.

To date, 54 sustainability co-ordinators have been trained throughout the university with the goal to train 100 co-ordinators by May. Pagani estimates it will be almost two years before there are co-ordinators in each department across the university.

For more information on the paper reduction plan, visit the Web site at www.sustain.ubc.ca. Staff or faculty interested in volunteering as sustainability co-ordinators may call 604-822-0483.