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By Citizen Reporter


Print and paper are not obsolete yet – survey

Since the 2000s, the internet has been inundated with predictions of paper's 'obsolescence'.

Society is far from paperless. A recent survey conducted by the Paper Manufacturers Association of SA (Pamsa) found 82% of respondents still use many forms of paper in their daily lives.

Only five percent reported using paper “very little”, and 0.2% said they did not use paper at all.

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Jane Molony, executive director of Pamsa, said: “The world is changing and so is the way we use paper. We wanted to get a better understanding of how, when, and why people use paper and what they thought about it.

“What we learnt is that paper in its countless forms still holds a prominent place in people’s everyday lives.”

Analogue versus digital

Do you prefer the screen or the page? That has become one of the defining questions of the digital age. The 1 976 people Pamsa surveyed had this to say:

  • Paper is for pleasure: Respondents preferred paper books and magazines to electronic versions. Just over 32% of participants read paper books, 22% read magazines and 11% enjoyed newspapers. In total, 65% of people surveyed preferred paper when reading for leisure.
  • Bookshelves need boosting: 80% admitted they own 50 books or less, with only 8.6% reporting that they own more than 100.
  • Printed news: Just less than a quarter get their daily news from newspapers only, while 33% say they rely on a combination of newspapers and websites.
  • Consumers need information about products: 87% agreed that labelling and printing on packaging are important to them.
  • Greener on screen? 65% believe electronic communication is greener, while 30% responded that it depends on the purpose.
  • Paper is sustainable: Just over 64% believe paper is sustainably produced in SA and about 85% understand it to be a renewable resource.

“These insights are great news for our sector which has been championing the versatility, renewability and recyclability of paper through awareness, advocacy and education programmes,” said Molony.

The myths around paper production causing deforestation still abound, though.

“There is a disconnect between people recognising that paper is a sustainable material, but believe all trees need to be kept in the ground to help our planet.

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“We continue to counter misinformation with the science around harvested wood products, and to challenge attitudes about paper and print’s place in society.”

Since the 2000s, the internet has been inundated with predictions of paper’s “obsolescence”.

Decades later, both remain a staple part of our daily lives and South Africans believe this will not change anytime soon.

Asked if they believe print is dead, 55% of respondents disagreed.

So print and paper are very much alive and kicking.

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