Why Digital Business Cards Are Better for the Environment

Discover how digital business cards reduce paper waste and positively impact the environment.

João Fiche


João Fiche


May 6, 2024

Discover the real impact of paper production on the environment.

Every day we witness the deforestation of forests and the destruction of ecosystems, all in favor of the demand for paper in the market. This process not only contributes to a significant loss in biodiversity, but also releases enormous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere due to tree cutting, and disturbs the soil, greatly increasing carbon emissions.

However, the impacts are not restricted to just these aspects. When we think about trees and paper production, it is common to relate them exclusively to deforestation of wood. But, in paper manufacturing, it is not just this raw material that is wasted.

The paper production cycle involves a series of factors, including excessive use of water, energy, waste generation, air and water pollution, fuel consumption for transportation, production of toxic substances, among others. Furthermore, paper production is often also associated with the violation of land rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities . The Amazon is an example of this, where the limits set out in legislation are constantly exceeded by the paper industry.


ClickCard appears as a solution to part of this problem. With growing environmental awareness, even routine aspects of our professional lives are being reevaluated. A notable example is the transition from traditional paper business cards to their digital versions, a solution that can contribute to reducing environmental impact.

Digital business cards emerge as an environmentally friendly alternative. The amount of natural resources and energy required to produce and distribute physical business cards is substantial. For example, a thousand traditional business cards consume a surprising amount of wood and energy, equivalent to running several refrigerators and cars operated for a year (non-stop).

Come with us on this journey of discovery about how small changes can have a big impact when it comes to protecting the environment.

Use of wood, water and energy expenditure, waste generation and greenhouse gases in business card production

Impact of business card printing on the environment

It is nothing new that the paper industry has a negative impact on the world and that, based on society's current awareness, digital solutions have gained more and more space.

As we mentioned above, various natural resources are used to manufacture paper and their impact on the environment is becoming more apparent every day.

To reinforce this perspective, ClickCard conducted extensive research, interviews and calculations to evaluate the impacts of printed business cards on the market. The results obtained provide a solid understanding of the true environmental cost associated with paper business cards.

We will present a detailed analysis below, initially summarizing the main results.

See the table below to understand the resources needed to produce business cards and estimated expenses, based on the size of each company.

Environmental Impact of Business Card Production by Company Size
Company Size (Number of Employees) Number of Employees With Cards Total Cards Printed Annually Total Card Weight (kg) Total weight of cards (pounds) Required Trees
50 40 6,000 9 19.84 0.4
100 80 12,000 18 39.68 1
500 400 60,000 90 198.42 4.8
1,000 700 105,000 157 346.13 8.2
5,000 3,500 525,000 787.5 1,736.14 41.6
10,000 7,000 1,050,000 1,575 3,472.28 83
50,000 30,000 4,500,000 6,750 14,881.20 356
100,000 60,000 9,000,000 13,500 29,762.41 712

Impact of paper making on the environment

While paper is still used extensively in everyday life, from notebooks to packaging, its manufacturing process has a significant environmental cost. Although many are aware of the problems associated with deforestation, the full impact of paper production goes far beyond simply cutting down trees.

Infographic illustrating how much is wasted to produce paper

Here are the top 6 (six) ways the paper making process affects the environment:

  1. Logging
  2. Excessive Water Use
  3. Waste Generation
  4. Use of Paints and Chemicals
  5. Carbon Gas Emissions
  6. Biodiversity Loss

Below we detail each of these aspects, examining the true environmental cost of paper and discussing more sustainable alternatives to mitigate these impacts:


The paper industry, by demanding a high amount of raw material, directly contributes to the devastation of forests. Deforestation not only reduces biodiversity and destroys natural habitats, but also intensifies the impacts of climate change.

Furthermore, removing trees for paper production compromises services vital ecosystems , such as regulating the water cycle and carbon absorption. Thus, while the pulp and paper industry boosts the national economy, it also leaves a mark of environmental destruction, undermining long-term sustainability.

In 2022, cellulose production in Brazil reached 25 million tons , an increase of 10.9% compared to the previous year . Brazil is the second largest cellulose producer in the world, behind only the United States (~50 million tons).

In 2022, Brazil alone produced 11.0 million tons of paper, registering an increase of 3.5% compared to the previous year.

Excessive Water Use

The global demand for water in industry is expected to increase considerably by 2050, with paper production representing a significant water consumption. Manufacturing one sheet of A4 paper consumes approximately 10 liters of water .

The paper production process involves several steps that require water, such as the manufacture of cellulose pulp , bleaching and cooling of equipment, contributing to its high consumption.

Excessive use of water in paper production can lead to several adverse environmental impacts, including water scarcity, water pollution and changes in aquatic ecosystems . This can worsen the scarcity of water resources in already limited regions, contaminating bodies of water with chemical effluents, harming aquatic life, in addition to compromising the quality of water for use.

Excess water consumption by the paper industry can lead to habitat loss and decreased biodiversity in local aquatic ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and aquifers.

Waste Generation

When producing paper, a significant portion of the Brazilian population disposes of it inappropriately, resulting in piles of paper on the streets and mixing it with organic waste, which makes it unsuitable for recycling. This is especially evident during election seasons, when the production of leaflets for political campaigns increases considerably.

In 2022, for example, the streets of Belo Horizonte, one of the Brazilian capitals, saw an alarming amount of 90 tons of these leaflets spread across public streets, compared to the 54 tons recorded in elections in previous years. And to make matters worse, in Brazil, only 4% of recyclable solid waste is sent for recycling, which is a low value compared to other underdeveloped countries that have an average of 16% recycling. In other words, the reuse of these papers is almost non-existent.

Use of Paints and Chemicals

In India, one of the world's leading paper producers, recent research has highlighted the significant environmental impacts associated with the paper industry . These impacts include excessive consumption of energy and water, in addition to the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases.

One of the main challenges identified by the researchers is related to the bleaching step, which is crucial for eliminating non-cellulosic materials, such as lignin. Unfortunately, the use of chlorine-based compounds in this process is common, generating organochlorines . These substances represent a serious threat to health and can cause respiratory diseases, chronic disorders, skin irritations and mutagenic and reproductive damage in aquatic and terrestrial organisms, including humans.

These concerns highlight the urgency of seeking more sustainable and safer alternatives for the bleaching process in the paper industry.

Carbon Emissions

Paper production and associated deforestation are crucial elements in today's environmental scenario. These processes result in massive release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide . Deforestation, in particular, not only alters natural landscapes, but also directly contributes to the transfer of carbon from solid to gaseous form, exacerbating the problem of climate change.

Biodiversity Loss

Paper production has been one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss in several parts of the world. This process often involves converting natural ecosystems, such as tropical and temperate forests, into tree plantations for cellulose production.

This conversion results in the loss of essential habitats for countless species of plants and animals, leading to the fragmentation and degradation of ecosystems. Furthermore, chemical substances used in paper processing, such as bleaching agents, can contaminate waterways and soil, negatively affecting aquatic and terrestrial life.

Intensifying paper production without adequate consideration for biodiversity conservation could have irreversible impacts on ecosystems and ecosystem services that sustain life on the planet.

Now that you understand a little, in general, about the environmental impact of paper manufacturing, let's talk a little about it, but in a very analytical way.

Check it out below.

Calculation of all environmental impacts of the paper production life cycle

To calculate this, ClickCard used the Paper Calculator, a tool created by the Environmental Paper Network that allows us to calculate your impact simply by adding the amount of paper you want.

See the results according to the values presented on the blog:

Primary Impacts

Environmental Impact by Company Size in Resource Utilization
Company size (Employees) Use of Wood (short tons) Total Energy (million BTUs) Greenhouse gases (pounds CO2) Water Use (gallons) Solid Waste (pounds)
50 0.08 0.3 178 212 11.7
100 0.16 0.5 357 424 23.4
500 0.80 2.5 1,780 2,120 117.0
1,000 1.40 4.4 3,110 3,700 204.0
5,000 7.00 22.1 15,600 18,600 1,020.0
10,000 13.80 44.3 31,200 37,100 2,040.0
50,000 59.40 190 134,000 159,000 8,760.0
100,000 118.80 379 267,000 318,000 17,500.0

Secondary Impacts

Environmental Impact by Company Size in Various Pollutants
Company size (Emp. levels) Nitrogen oxides (NOx) g eq/m3*m2 Purchased Energy (million BTUs) Particulates (PM2.5 eq/m3*m2) Sulfur dioxide (pounds) Volatile organic compounds (pounds) Total reduced sulfur (TRS pounds) Hazardous pollutants (pounds) Chemical oxygen demand (pounds) Biochemical oxygen demand (pounds) Forest disturbance (acres) Ocean acidification (pounds) Mercury emissions (milligrams) Dioxin emissions (micrograms)
50 9.7 0.1 3.2 0.08 0.001 0.001 0.02 0.2 0.09 0.004 29.7 0.4 31.7
100 19.4 0.3 6.3 0.2 0.003 0.002 0.03 0.4 0.2 0.007 59.4 0.7 63.4
500 97.2 1.4 31.7 0.8 0.01 0.01 0.2 1.9 0.9 0.04 297 3.6 317
1,000 170 2.5 55.3 1.4 0.03 0.02 0.3 3.3 1.6 0.06 518 6.3 553
5,000 851 12.6 277 7.1 0.1 0.1 1.4 16.5 7.9 0.3 2,600 31.5 2,780
10,000 1,700 25.2 554 14.2 0.3 0.2 2.8 33.1 15.8 0.6 5,200 63 5,550
50,000 7,290 108 2,380 61 1.09 0.9 11.9 142 67.5 2.8 22,300 270 23,800
100,000 14,600 216 4,750 122 2.2 1.9 23.8 284 135 5.5 44,500 540 47,600

Okay, but some may say, "I can't grasp most of these numbers"!

Some of us didn't either, so with the help of the paper calculator, this is what a company of 100,000 employees would waste per year in equivalents:

Environmental Impact of Paper Use and its equivalents
Resource Line Paper Use/Production Base Equivalent
Wood118.8 U.S. short tons712 Trees
Net Energy379 million BTUs452 residential refrigerators operated/year
Greenhouse gases267,000 pounds CO2 equiv.24.3 cars/year
Water318,000 gallons230 washing machines operated/year
Solid Waste17,500 pounds4000 people generating waste solids/day
Nitrogen Oxides and Tropospheric Ozone14,600 O3 equiv/m³*18.5 gasoline cars operated/year
Purchased Energy216 million BTUs257 residential refrigerators operated/year
Particles/PM2.54.750 PM2.5 equiv/m³*180 passenger cars powered by gasoline/year
Sulfur Dioxide122 pounds39.6 eighteen-wheel vehicles/year
Organic compounds Volatiles2.2 pounds9,100 miles traveled in one car/year
Reduced Total Sulfur1.9 poundsNot specified
Atmospheric Pollutants23.8 pounds4.8 passenger cars/year
Chemical Oxygen284 pounds1.7 house/year
Biochemical Oxygen135 pounds0.7 house/year
Forest Disturbance5.5 acressize 4.2 football fields
Ocean Acidification44,500 pounds11.5 cars/year
Mercury Emissions540 milligrams135 compact fluorescent lamps
Dioxin Emissions47.600 microgramsNot specified


The data clearly illustrates the significant environmental impact caused by business card printing, especially for large corporations. A company with 100,000 employees printing business cards annually is equivalent to cutting down 712 trees, operating 452 refrigerators for a year and generating emissions comparable to more than 24 cars on the roads. Impacts encompass greenhouse gases, water use, solid waste, air pollutants and more.

However, there is a sustainable solution that can help mitigate this environmental damage – the transition to digital business cards. Platforms like ClickCard allow businesses and employees to simply share digital contact details and multimedia information rather than requiring physical cards. This digital transition eliminates the need for printing, along with associated paper consumption, energy use, emissions and waste.

By adopting ClickCard's digital business card solution , a company of 100,000 people could potentially save more than 20,000 kg in contributions to ocean acidification, avoid 14,600 units of nitrogen oxide emissions, preserve almost 22,000 m2 of forest land and reduce other environmental impacts, such as particles and dangerous air polluting substances.

The benefits go beyond the environment as well. Digital cards are easily updatable, can be shared contactlessly, integrate with CRM platforms and enable advanced multimedia capabilities unmatched by static printed cards. The advantages go beyond sustainable habits, they include cost savings and almost unlimited experience gain.

As companies increasingly prioritize environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, switching to sustainable digital business card solutions like ClickCard presents a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint and ecological impact , while embracing modern technology. Every corporate transition helps drive positive change at scale. The time to go digital is now!

Contact our team or download our app (iOS and Android).

And, for those of you who want to investigate the data presented in this blog in more detail, check out how the calculations were carried out:


The objective with these results is to have some calculations about the impact of business cards on companies of different sizes . Therefore, for this study we will calculate the impacts associated with printing business cards for different company sizes, based on the amount of employees, 50; 100; 500; 1,000; 5,000; 10,000; 50,000 and 100,000 employees.

To estimate the amount of trees, tons of paper, water, electricity, etc. wasted by companies of different sizes when printing business cards, it was necessary to consider several factors, such as: the average number of employees who normally receive business cards; the average number of business cards per employee; the dimensions and weight of a standard business card and the estimated amount of paper that can be made out of a tree.

Let's start with some facts and assumptions:

  1. Not every individual in a company will need/have a traditional business card. For companies with 50 to 500 employees, it was assumed that 80% of employees receive business cards. For companies with between 501 to 10,000 employees, it was assumed that 70% of employees receive business cards. For companies with more than 10,001, it was estimated that about 60% of employees receive business cards.
  1. The number of business cards shared per person per year:
  • This can vary greatly depending on the individual's profession, networking activities and personal preferences;
  • For those who network and actively participate in events, they may share 100 to 500 business cards per year;
  • For others who primarily use business cards to meet new customers or contacts, the number may be much lower, around 30 to 100 cards per year;
  • To account for this variation, we assumed an average of 150 business cards shared per person per year.
  1. To estimate the average weight of a standard business card , we made some assumptions based on typical materials and dimensions:

Material :

  • Most business cards are printed on cardstock or thick paper;
  • A common material is 14 pt. (0.014 inches or 0.356 mm) thick cardstock.

Dimensions :

  • The standard business card size is 88.9 mm x 50.8 mm (3.5 inches by 2 inches).

Paper/cardboard density:

  • The density of paper and cardboard can vary, but a typical value is around 0.7 g/cm³ or 700 kg/m³.

Based on this data, a reasonable estimate for the average weight of a standard business card was 1.5 grams or 0.053 ounces.

With this information, it was possible to calculate the estimated weight of business cards printed by different company sizes, shown below:

  • 50 employees:
    • Number of employees with business cards = 50 x 0.8 = 40
    • Total number of business cards printed per year = 40 x 150 = 6,000
    • Total weight of business cards = 6,000 x 1.5 grams = 19.84 pounds
  • 100 employees:
    • Employees receiving cards: 100 x 0.8 = 80
    • Total number of business cards printed annually: 80 x 150 = 12,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 12,000 x 1.5 g = 39.68 pounds
  • 500 employees:
    • Number of employees with business cars: 500 x 0.8 = 400
    • Total printed cards annually: 400 x 150 = 60,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 60,000 x 1.5 g = 198.42 pounds
  • 1,000 employees:
    • Employees receiving cards: 1,000 x 0.7 = 700
    • Total printed cards annually: 700 x 150 = 105,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 105,000 x 1.5 g ≈ 346.13 pounds
  • 5,000 employees:
    • Employees receiving cards: 5,000 x 0.7 = 3,500
    • Total printed cards annually: 3,500 x 150 = 525,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 525,000 x 1.5 g = 1,736.14 pounds
  • 10,000 employees:
    • Employees receiving cards: 10,000 x 0.7 = 7,000
    • Total printed cards annually: 7,000 x 150 = 1,050,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 1,050,000 x 1.5 g = 3,472.28 pounds
  • 50,000 employees:
    • Employees receiving cards: 50,000 x 0.6 = 30,000
    • Total printed cards annually: 30,000 x 150 = 4,500,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 4,500,000 x 1.5 g = 14,881.20 pounds
  • 100,000 employees:
    • Employees receiving cards: 100,000 x 0.6 = 60,000
    • Total printed cards annually: 60,000 x 150 = 9,000,000
    • Total weight of the cards: 9,000,000 x 1.5 g = 29,762.41 pounds

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