44 ENVIRONMENT | LEGAL SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHT 2018 2018 AusLSA Member Performance The trend in paper use by Australian Law firms shows continuing reductions. These reductions are driven by a number of innovations, including the increased uptake of electronic filing, online lodgement and litigation processes, electronic communication and behaviour change among employees. The consumption of paper per employee has decreased by nine percent this year and is now under one hundred kilograms per person for the first time. The paper reduction achieved this year amounts to over 260 tonnes of paper saved across the reporting members. The upper range of paper consumption across member firms also decreased this year from 187 kgs per person to 172 kgs. This suggests that paper reductions initiatives are now underway at some of the higher paper using firms. Of the seventeen hundred tonnes of paper consumed by AusLSA members, only seventeen percent was made from recycled paper. Paper use by law firms is often influenced by the requirements and relationships they have with a wide range of stakeholders including; customers, barristers, other lawyers, courts and regulators. It is not currently possible, even for those firms with the best paperless processes and employee behaviours, to unilaterally eliminate paper from their practice. The most paper efficient firms in this report, however, set a challenge to the legal profession by demonstrating that there are viable alternatives to most paper use. PAPER USE RECYCLED PAPER With the evolution of modern technology including automated paper mills, digital printing and the mechanised harvesting of wood, paper has become less expensive, contributing to increased levels of consumption and waste. Modern paper mills currently produce about 410,000,000 tons of paper and paperboard globally per year. According to the Pulp & Paper Industry Strategy group, Australians consume around four million tonnes of paper and paperboard each year — equal to almost 200 kg per person. The production and use of pulp and paper harms the environment in many ways; • logging releases carbon in the atmosphere (each hectare of mountain ash logged in Australia releases over 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases), • paper production uses four percent of global energy (the world’s fifth largest consumer), • the paper production is a water intensive process, • paper mills add to air, water and land pollution including; organochlorines, chlorine oxides and persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins and furans, • paper recycling requires de-inking which produces a waste sludge and, • discarded paper is a major component of landfill, accounting for about thirty-five percent by weight of municipal solid waste While the environmental impact of paper use and production is significant, the rise in environmental awareness is causing a trend towards improved sustainability in the pulp and paper industry, including more sustainable paper options and reductions in paper use. Paper recycling recovers waste paper and manufactures it into new paper products. Recycling paper involves breaking it into reusable cellulose fibres by mixing it with water and de-inking it. There are three categories of paper feedstocks used to make recycled paper: • Mill broke is paper trimmings and other paper scrap from the manufacture of paper • Pre-consumer waste is obtained from printer’s offcuts and run errors, so it has never been used by consumers, and • Post-consumer waste is paper and card that has been previously used by consumers. Paper made from post-consumer waste makes the greatest contribution towards removing paper from the waste stream. In Australia, recycled paper often includes virgin fibre from plantations or native forests to improve quality. To be sure you’re maximising the environmental benefits of recycled paper, it is generally best to choose paper products with the highest post- consumer content possible. Advantages of recycled paper compared with virgin pulp • thirty-six percent less energy consumption • forty-four percent fewer greenhouse gases • thirty-eight percent less waste paper • eighty-two percent less solid waste than virgin fibre paper. • thirty-five percent less water pollution and • seventy-four percent less air pollution 28.78 186.96 PAPER CONSUMPTION Tonnes C02 -e per employee for all firms PAPER USE kg per employee 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 104 119 108 111 97 27KG MINIMUM 172KG MAXIMUM 100KG AVERAGE