The sun never sets on our campaign

16th January 2015

Map of Pennsylvania with Japanese flag

Well once again I am astounded at the round-the-world reach the issue of retaining paper bills has.

I’ve talked about Europe in this blog before – now I have received news from a campaigner in Japan, who has been protesting at new charges imposed by his telecoms company, and he has highlighted a consultation in Pennsylvania, USA, where they are consulting on a rule which would prohibit utility companies from charging for a paper bill.

 The latter is interesting as the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission has concluded that failing to provide customers with the option of an itemized monthly paper bill free of charge “constitutes unreasonable and inadequate service”. I for one would like to shake their hands for recognising this – something that a number of service providers in this country have so far failed to grasp.

In Japan, the arguments are different. Our correspondent received a letter from his telecomms supplier, the largest one in Tokyo, which stated he was going to be charged from this year for a paper bill. The charge for paper was to encourage people to go paperless, which the company claimed would protect the environment and save 730 tons of paper a year.

This gentleman worked in the woodpulp business for decades, and has written back with his own observations. He states that woodpulp, the main raw material for paper making, is, in most cases in North America and Europe, the by-product of producing timber for housing purposes.  In Australia and Brazil, fast growing eucalyptus is grown specially for wood pulp – an agricultural commodity like wheat and corn.

And he maintains that the claim that saving paper would save the planet is typical “greenwash” – something our supporter TwoSides is often having to counter.

Isn’t it amazing, though, that in so many different cultures, in so many different places across the planet, this same debate of paper versus online is raging. And the same feelings surface – what about the people who have or don’t want to have internet access? From East to West, The sun never sets on the fight for choice.

Judith Donovan