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Domtar announces college students think "paperless" can go too far

Press release from the issuing company

Montreal and Fort Mill, SC - Most college students in a new nationwide poll rank themselves as environmentally conscious and two-thirds believe going paperless helps the environment, but they draw the line at electronic copies for key documents - especially when it comes to college diplomas.

The nationwide poll found that while college juniors and seniors believe going paperless helps the environment, fewer than 30 percent would give up printed books, magazines and newspapers, photos or official documents. And nearly 70 percent said the idea of receiving an electronic copy of their diplomas either bothered them or they considered it so terrible that they hated it. Only 4 percent of the respondents said they would "love" the idea of a paperless college diploma at graduation.

"This is hardly a superfluous scrap of paper," one of the respondents said. "Doggone it, I've worked my butt off in school, and I want a piece of paper on my wall to prove it."

The nationwide survey was conducted by Eric Mower and Associates and commissioned by Domtar, one of North America's leading paper companies. Researchers contacted 420 college juniors and seniors nationwide between April 16 to 20 to ask them their views on what they could do to protect the environment and personal paper usage. The survey has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

"A document like a college diploma should be handed to the graduate in paper," said one student. "It is something that people take great pride in and want to show to people, frame and hold in their hands."

"While it's important to use paper responsibly, there are also myths about paper that should be dispelled. There will always be times when a substitute won't do, because paper is simply more convenient, more effective and more meaningful," said Lewis Fix, Vice President of Brand Management and Sustainable Product Development at Domtar. "Business gets done on paper, people learn on paper, love is declared on paper and rights are guaranteed on paper. Even students who identify themselves as environmentally conscious recognize the importance of paper."

The survey also found that:
- When it comes to studying at school, 52 percent of students like materials on paper. Twenty-three percent report they prefer hard copies of most notes and professors also print out class materials. Another 29 percent of students said that while they like hard copies, their professors tend to send out electronic copies.
- Students clearly prefer paper copies of key documents. Less than a third of the students want electronic copies of their legal contracts (29 percent), real estate deeds (25 percent), marriage licenses (23 percent), birth certificates (17 percent), passports (15 percent) or drivers' licenses (12 percent).
- College juniors and seniors identified the top four ways they personally display environmental consciousness include turning off power when electronic devices aren't being used (81 percent), recycling (75 percent), using less water (54 percent) and doing only full loads of laundry or hanging clothes to dry (53 percent). Thirty-six percent say they are "going paperless" to display their environmental consciousness, ranking it fifth in the survey.
- Less than 30 percent would give up printed books, magazines and newspapers, photos or official documents. However, more than 60 percent of students would be comfortable going paperless with bank statements, class schedules/grade reports and bills.

"The survey shows that college students are certainly concerned about the planet's future, and want to take steps to reduce their impact - we find that very encouraging," Fix said. "It's also interesting that even with all of the electronic options available to today's youth that paper is still important - whether in the classroom as the medium for their education - or on the wall as a symbol of years of hard work and dedication."

"Something could always go wrong with electronics," one student said of their reason for wanting a printed diploma. "Diplomas are important mementos."

"Getting a diploma over an email makes it seem so much less official," commented another student in the survey. "You worked for it like mad, and gave the school thousands of dollars, the least they could do for you is give you that piece of paper."

As part of the survey, students were asked how they typically send personal notes at an important moment to someone they really care about. Thirty-one percent said they write it on paper, because it's more meaningful and the recipient would appreciate it more. A note on paper beat out a phone call (27 percent), text (22 percent) and email (20 percent).

When it comes to landing a job after graduation, 47 percent of students say they will send out resumes electronically, while 27 percent report they will send out both electronic and paper resumes and 17 percent say they prefer to send their resumes on paper. "It was interesting to see the weight students place on using paper for documents that are important to them - everything from their college diploma to textbooks to personal notes to key people in their lives," Fix said. "For some reason when it comes to their resume - a critical first step in building a career, the largest share of students plan to use email to reach potential employers. Based on how they react to a document on paper, they may want to rethink relying solely on electronic copies of their resumes."

Domtar invests in projects to increase forest certification and reduce the environmental impact of its operations. Because of this, Domtar has earned the support of respected environmental organizations. More than three-fourths of the energy used at Domtar mills comes from renewable, carbon neutral sources, and Domtar has cut green house gas emissions by 33 percent since 2002 - far exceeding the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.

"Domtar is at the forefront of the responsible use of paper in part because the future of our business is linked to a healthy environment and the availability of both virgin and recycled fiber. We're not just a paper company, we're a sustainable paper company," Fix says. "Students should not feel guilty about using our paper, because paper is a plant based product that is renewable, sustainable and recycled with ease."