Environmental Impact Analysis of E-book vs. Paper Book with a Case from Turkey

Bilgiç S., Bereketli Zafeırakopoulos İ.

19th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP 2019), Barcelona, Spain, 15 - 18 October 2019, pp.581-591

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Barcelona
  • Country: Spain
  • Page Numbers: pp.581-591
  • Galatasaray University Affiliated: Yes


Technological innovations are changing every aspect of life, and one example is the tools we read. The emergence of electronic books reshaped the reading habits of people. Although e-books have advantages about ease of handling and storage, there is not a certainty regarding to become a more eco-friendly way of reading. Even though paper books and e-books do the same work, life cycle stages are extremely different from each other. While paper books cause high paper consumption, electronic devices and energy are the main sources of e-book solutions. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a useful tool analyse environmental impacts of a product or service associated with all life cycle stages, which is raw material extraction to end-of-life. Previous studies evaluated environmental impacts of paper books and e-books using LCA method. Most of the studies use general assumptions about reading patterns and ignore the way of getting books; however, reading patterns and accessing books are significant variables affect the magnitude of the impacts. Increase in number of books read from an e- reader decreases impacts of per e-book because of high total usage of e-reader. On the other hand, increase in number of reader per paper book decreases magnitude of impacts. Transportation of the books is also effective on environmental impacts. While e-books reach the end-user without transportation, paper books have to travel especially much more for rural areas. This study will analyse whether e-book is an eco-friendly solution or not for rural areas. Environmental impacts of paper book and e-book will be determined with LCA method. A chosen town in Turkey will be used to determine effects of transportation. Results give a comparison between impacts of e-book and paper book solutions for this case.