Paper group battles all-out digitization

Paper group battles all-out digitization

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Feb. 26, 2014

As the federal government moves toward doing more of its business online, one group has gained some political traction by arguing for "paper options."

While stopping short of opposing the move toward digitization altogether, Consumers for Paper Options has brought up the needs of two societal groups: seniors and those without Internet access. According to the group's website, 30 percent of the U.S. population is without Internet "access" and, therefore, is reliant on paper communication from the government.

The shift away from paper over the last two decades has had a major impact on recycling programs and materials processors across North America as once-dependable revenue streams generated by recovered paper have shrunk considerably.

According to a Feb. 16 Washington Post article, money is also on the mind of Consumers for Paper Options – the Post points out the organization is funded, in large part, by the paper industry. The article links the group to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), one of the industry's largest trade groups, which assisted Maine Rep. Michael Michaud, a Democrat, in successfully removing language from a recent bill that would have digitized prescription information.

The government's position, in essence, is to cut down on costs and waste, while opponents stress the industry has made sustainability strides, especially through recycling. According to the AF&PA, paper recycling has reached 65 percent in the U.S.

Social Security statements and tax forms are among the major issues Consumers for Paper Options is tackling.

In a sign the group has made some successful political inroads, last month's budget deal required the government to start sending physical, paper copies of annual Social Security statements to the country's future retirees.

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