For good or for bad, there’s a sharp decline in the volume of pages printed at home and in offices as the world continues to shift to digital in the wake of Covid-19, with a new forecast predicting colossal cuts by the year’s end.

The Covid-19 pandemic will lead to paper consumption falling “13.7 percent in 2020, from 3.2 trillion pages in 2019 to 2.8 trillion pages in 2020,” analysts from the International Data Corporation (IDC) have predicted. Apart from saving more trees, this would exacerbate the existing problems faced by an industry already in decline. 

The IDC states that page volumes are now forecast to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of minus 4.8 percent over the 2019-2024 forecast period, far worse than the already feeble 2015-2019 CAGR of minus 1.2 percent.

“More than 6 million pages were printed every minute globally in 2019. This amount covers the area of 54 football pitches. COVID-19 is expected to remove print volume that would fill the area of 7 football fields every minute in 2020,” says Ilona Stankeova, senior research director, Imaging Devices & Document Solutions, IDC Europe.

As much as going digital may be better for the environment, studies suggest there is an educational trade-off.

Research from August 2019 found that students absorb more information when reading text on paper than on screens.

Whether or not our increasing reliance on technology is worthwhile remains to be seen. However, with Covid-19 still in full swing, it looks as if our decision to continue down this road has already been made for us. Let’s hope it wasn’t all one big paper tiger. 

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