Any business organization has goals to achieve which are not limited to its business core value, which is financial stability. Other incidental goals are social, political and environmental responsibilities. The environmental responsibility that a business organization must fulfill is ensuring that its products, as well as the process of raw material extraction, produce as minimal pollution to the environment as possible. Therefore, it is quite imperative that businesses carry out life cycle analysis of their products.
Life cycle analysis is the process by which assessment is done on the possible environmental impacts of a product. This begins from the point of raw material extraction, through the manufacturing process, to the point when the product is disposed after use. The process of life cycle analysis is relevant to businesses, because it helps in determination of type of raw materials to use in the manufacturing process (Graedel & Allenby, 2003).
The raw materials need to be eco-friendly to meet the environmental regulations. Moreover, life cycle analysis allows an organization to compare the pollution effects of various materials to the financial requirements of cleaning the environment, thereby coming up with the best alternative.
In addition, life cycle analysis gives information which could be used to educate potential users of the commodity, on the best ways of disposal or the recycling methods available. This also helps the public to be educated on the proper ways of using the product and when it will be unadvisable to use the product.
Besides, it is required that all organizations release to the public, all the information in their knowledge about the effects that the use of their product could have to the environment (Sorensen, 2011). However, this information would not be known unless a life cycle analysis has been carried out on the product. Additionally, life cycle analysis enables businesses formulate more efficient and eco-friendly manufacturing technologies.
“Cradle to Death” Life Cycle of a Newspaper
Newspapers are a combination of paper and ink mixed together in the printing process. However, the life cycle of a newspaper begins from the point when trees are cut down, from which the process of paper production begins.
Apparently, the life cycle of a newspaper can be divided into four categories: materials extraction, printing, distribution and disposal. To begin with, identification of a suitable forest with trees that can be used to produce pulp is important. Nevertheless, it should be noted that nowadays pulp is produced from both trees and recycled paper.
The process of cutting trees and producing pulp requires the use of energy. The power saws and the machines that are used to cut down the trees and transport them to the factory, consume energy through fueling. On the same note, in the factory where pulp is manufactured, the machines use electricity in the process of extracting moisture from the wood and wood chips, among other processes. Moreover, energy is required to recycle the waste paper that is used together with the wood to produce pulp (Graedel & Allenby, 2003).
It should also be noted that deforestation has adverse effects on the environment, because this not only affects the climatic conditions of the area, but also interferes with water sources, unless replacement of the trees is done. However, even with replacement, time is required for the trees to mature. By and large, this affects the weather conditions of an area.
After the rolls of paper have been produced, they are taken to the printing plant where they are mixed with ink to produce newspapers (Horne, Grant, & Verghese, 2009). The energy consumed at this stage consists of the electricity used in the editorial work, as well as the electricity use in the actual printing process.
It is important to note that printing plates and ink also require energy in their production. Besides consuming energy, this process has also other environmental effects due to the substances that are released. To begin with, water is required during the process and the used water is then released back to the rivers.
Though the water is treated before being recycled back to the rivers, it will still contain some harmful substances (Sorensen, 2011). Therefore, this process pollutes water by adding unwanted substances, thus interfering with aquatic ecosystem. On top, the nitrogenous, sulphur and carbon gases released by the printing plants have been proved to contribute to global warming, acidification of the atmosphere, eutrophication and photo oxidant formation.
The newspapers printed have to be transported to various parts for sale. This requires roads, trains and sometimes air transport to ensure that the papers are distributed to the ultimate end users. In most cases, hydrocarbon fuels are used in fuelling the vessels that will be used in the process of transportation. Most of the vehicles, trains and airplanes are known to release carbon emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, production of fossil fuels which are used as a source of energy pollutes the environment, and part of this is associated with newspaper production (Graedel & Allenby, 2003).
Lastly, there is the disposal aspect of newspaper production. Once the newspaper is read, it loses value and it is disposed off as a waste product. In this regard, newspapers are only useful for around one day and a maximum of one month, after which they must be disposed off. Newspapers can be disposed in several ways, though majority of them are recycled and used to produce pulp which is again used to produce new papers.
Similarly, newspapers can be recycled and used to form an energy saving material known as cellulose insulation, which is usually used to make insulators that are vital in energy saving. On the other hand, some newspapers are dumped in landfills where they cause waste of land, which could have been used for other purposes (Horne, Grant, & Verghese 2009). Nevertheless, wood which is used to make paper and soy beans from which ink is produced, do not pose a threat to the environment, because they decay and mix with the soil. Furthermore, they do not release toxic substances into the environment during the decaying process.
Newspapers play an important role in our economy, by aiding in transmission of information from one part of the country to another. On the other hand, the environmental impacts associated with the production of newspaper should also be taken into consideration. As a result, it is important for newspaper firms to conduct a life cycle analysis and make informed decisions. The firms should also carry out research on methods of protecting the environment, while they carry out their business.
Graedel, T. E., & Allenby, B. R. (2003). Industrial Ecology. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
Horne, R., Grant, T., & Verghese, K. (2009). Life Cycle Assessment: Principals, Practice, and Prospects. Collingwood: Csiro Publishing.
Sorensen, B. (2011). Life Cycle Analysis of Energy Systems: From Methodology to Applications. London: RSC Publishing.