Advancing understanding of the environmental impact of paper & digital communications
To make progress on its carbon neutrality commitment and foster wider engagement around the impact of paper & digital communications, French postal service La Poste, turned to Quantis to evaluate the environmental impacts of paper and digital communications solutions and develop a tool to help advertisers reduce the environmental footprint of their communication campaigns.
“La Poste is committed to continuously improving its environmental footprint. By working with Quantis, it now has a clear vision of the environmental impact of both paper and digital formats and can move towards responsible communication solutions for our clients.”
Laure Mandaron, CSR director
With the Climate and Energy 2019 law, to make progress on its commitment to carbon neutrality and help its customers make informed choices that ultimately support this goal, La Poste needed to better understand the nature of the environmental impacts of digital and paper communications solutions and the areas with the greatest potential for improvement.
La Poste partnered with Quantis to assess the impacts of communications solutions and leverage the findings to identify a pathway for improvement as well as develop a tool enabling advertisers to simulate the environmental footprint of planned communication campaigns.
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Because of its direct link to deforestation, a lot of work has been done to understand and reduce the impacts of paper products. In contrast, few studies exist on the environmental impact of digital communications. “Digital” is synonymous with “paperless” and, as a result, has largely been perceived as having negligible environmental impact. However, momentum is growing around digital’s very real impact and how to address it.
This project with La Poste led to one of the first in-depth life cycle assessments focused on digital communications. Two considerations were key: the lack of developed emissions factors, as well as environmental disclosures from sub-suppliers (like cloud providers) often missing in the ICT sector.
As a first step, Quantis conducted an ISO-compliant comparative LCA with 16 environmental indicators to bring clarity to the impacts of La Poste’s paper and digital solutions, assessing five typical communications solutions (invoice, brochure, two types of catalogues and a flyer) in both digital and paper formats. The study was submitted for a critical review by a panel of external experts. Using the results of the study, Quantis worked with La Poste to identify key levers of impact reduction for both digital and paper communications.
The study enabled La Poste to understand under which circumstances a paper solution might perform better than its digital equivalent and where to focus ecodesign efforts. With the Media Positive Impact Calculator, La Poste teams are better positioned to guide advertisers to reduce the environmental footprint of their communications, both paper and digital.
La Poste opened its study up to the public to foster wider engagement around the impact of digital communications and set a baseline for environmental assessment of digital communications. The study was also presented to the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME).
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Senior Sustainability Consultant