Carbon footprint and environmental impacts of print products from cradle to grave: Results from the LEADER project (Part 1)

Hanna Pihkola, Minna Nors, Marjukka Kujanpää, Tuomas Helin, Merja Kariniemi, Tiina Pajula, Helena Dahlbo, Sirkka Koskela

    Research output: Book/ReportReport

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    865 Downloads (Pure)


    The aim of the LEADER project (2007-2010) was to study the environmental impacts occurring during the life cycle of print products. The scope of the project was focused on printed media products. The main products in the print media product group are newspapers, magazines, books and advertisements. In the study, two research methods were applied: product-specific life cycle assessment (including carbon footprint) and the environmentally extended inputoutput model ENVIMAT (Seppälä et al. 2009). Life cycle assessment is a method that provides detailed information about the environmental aspects and potential environmental impacts connected to the life cycle of a product. Carbon footprinting is a fairly new application of life cycle assessment with its own specific calculation procedures. In the ENVIMAT model, the life cycle impact results of the whole Finnish economy or individual industries can be presented with indicators such as environmental impact category results (e.g. climate change). Thus the ENVIMAT model is a macro-level tool that provides an estimate of the environmental impacts related to the production and consumption of print products in Finland. During the project, data was collected concerning the whole life cycle of print products and five case products were selected for further study. Life cycle assessments were conducted and carbon footprints calculated for ? a regional newspaper (coldset offset printed) ? a weekly magazine (heatset offset printed) ? a photobook (printed with electrophotography). Additionally, a carbon footprint study was conducted for ? an advertisement leaflet (rotogravure printed) ? hardcover book (sheetfed offset printed). By selecting several case products, the potential impacts of different printing methods and different paper grades were included in the study. The case studies provide extensive examples of the environmental aspects and potential environmental impacts - and especially of the carbon footprints - of printed products. Insofar as this was possible, the case studies were defined to present viable value chains that could exist in Finland. Due to several differences between the case products, the results of the studies are not directly comparable. However, the case studies point out many similarities and critical environmental aspects within the product group of fibre-based print products. Also the challenges related to the use of LCA and carbon footprint methodology to evaluate the environmental impacts of paper-based products have been illustrated and discussed in the context of the case studies. In all cases, the LCI, carbon footprint and LCIA results are reported divided into life cycle stages and considering both direct and indirect emissions and impacts. By presenting the sources and potential impacts according to life cycle stages, the influence of different actors over the impacts of the whole life cycle can be evaluated. The case studies provide new information about the potential environmental impacts related to print products. Especially the end-of-life treatments, all transport, manufacturing of printing ink and printing plates and the environmental impacts of electrophotography printing are aspects that have not been studied widely before. As part of data collection, the development of environmental performance within different printing methods was evaluated, and environmental indicators specific for the printing phase are discussed. Additionally, the results of the LEADER project can be used as help and background information when further developing methodologies and calculation principles suitable for fibrebased print products.

    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages253
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7670-8
    ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7669-2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes


    • Carbon footprint
    • Environmental assessment
    • Environmental impact
    • Life cycle assessment
    • Print media
    • Print product
    • Printing industry
    • Pulp and paper industry
    • Sustainability
    • Sustainability assessment


    Dive into the research topics of 'Carbon footprint and environmental impacts of print products from cradle to grave: Results from the LEADER project (Part 1)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this