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Filtering Fact from Fiction: Ensuring Information Quality in the Digital Age

Quality is the commitment to excellence that drives the relentless pursuit of perfection. But interfering with that relentless pursuit is a strong EU governmental push to go completely digital, particularly with industrial products, medical products and other consumer information. No paper. Digital only.

As a result the European print and paper industry is uniting, reminding legislators that going" digital only" is not neutral but would be harmful in some cases. The proposed restriction of paper would result in wide-ranging social, educational, and economic risks, beneficial to no one. For example:

  1. Regarding basic skills: A large number of people in Europe, roughly 1/3 of the population, are without digital skills for one reason or another - many of whom rely on paper-based information. Paper affects the quality of information gained by many.

  1. Regarding access to educational material: Education requires access to paper (books, etc.) for "inclusion and education". Fifty-four studies with 170,000 people shows reading comprehension is better on paper than on a screen. Paper affects the quality of understanding.

  1. Regarding literacy skills: The OECD's (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) latest research shows that students reading a (paper) book enjoy reading more, read more often, and perform better in reading. When these students read digital texts, their reading performance declined, even when accounting for socioeconomic and gender differences. Paper affects the quality of comprehension and enjoyment.

The print and paper industry is also reminding legislators about the high value of recyclable paper products in the context of the current political climate, and that EU legislation should take everything into account including circularity, inclusion, and freedom of choice.

The pros of using paper is that paper is from a renewable resource, manufactured primarily via renewable energy, with Europe's recycling rate at 71.4%. (In areas of Germany it's significantly higher.) The cons of going digital are the electronics' high energy consumption through the use of data centers, servers and more. And don't forget that electronic waste is significant and non-recyclable.

The final observations of the print and paper industry are that 1) the print industry generates growth, employment, education, and inclusion. Do away with print and paper and you do away with these vital factors in society. And 2) making laws to ban paper across the board isn't just "neutral", it creates broad sweeping social and economic risks.

The final suggestion of the print and paper industry: The industry is asking EU policymakers to, instead of a "digital only" policy, include print alongside digital communications.

These suggestions by the print and paper industry are much more well-balanced. And an approach which will bring and maintain quality jobs, quality of education, quality learning, and equity of access to all.


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