Published on November 15th, 2017 | by Subhash Nair


What’s With The Amount of Paper The Car Industry Wastes?

The one thing I’ve really not liked about being in this line of work is seeing the amount of wasted paper that’s involved.

Personally, I recycle and reuse the A4 sheets that get handed to me. I also pass the nice brochures to younger car fans who might appreciate it more.

But just take a look at what about a month of media events can end up looking like for just one writer:

Most of these are completely avoidable. Such as:

A) Press Releases in Languages I Don’t Cover

Sometimes, you don’t even ask for a hard copy and you find a folder with Mandarin, BM and English press releases all bundled in there.

B) Multipage press releases

Sometimes, a product just has too many features to talk about. Other times, it’s just fluff. Too many times, we’ve seen press releases  go over 4 or 5 pages in length. Cut it down to 2 pages, please. No one is going to read that much in 2017. If you can’t compress the info, leave a link or QR code to the info.

C) Last minute announcements/ VIP announcements

At some events, PR staff are made to announce something last minute and they do it by printing out a single sentence. Completely unnecessary.

D) Printing on just one side

That same sheet of paper with one line of words, the other side of it is completely blank. Not uncommon at all.

E) Event programmes

Again, it’s just so unnecessary. The email invitation already has this. Even if it doesn’t we can ask – which can sometimes be more accurate as VIPs tend to roll in whenever they feel like it.


Instead of focusing on the negative, let us propose a solution. Of course, the actual PR companies are the experts, so our ideas here are just guidelines on how things could change in the next few years.

To PR Companies/Departments

1) Shift resources to softcopy press releases

As it stands, PR companies have everything set up for both an email and a printout of the press materials. However, when a member of the media shows up at an event, he/she gets the hard copy first. Usually, only after the official launch is the soft copy sent. Sometimes the soft copy is sent a couple of hours later together with event photos.

Why not send the softcopy via email upon registration? Yes, it’s more work. You may need one person to take the information and another to hit send to streamline things, but as it stands, skilled/semi-skilled labour is already being wasted doing things like spell checking, printing, stapling, checking folders. All of that can be eliminated/reduced with a bigger focus on the digital side.

2) More efficient use of paper

Yes, clients and bosses want PR to follow the company’s format/rules, but if you pitch smaller fonts and fewer pages of paper as a part of the company’s CSR, they might see the logic behind it.

3) Put the responsibility on the media

Some digital media folk still need the press release on hand as an easy way to refer to details during their write up. Fair enough. But a lot of us don’t need it. A lot of marketing guys tag along to events and get handed the press kit for no reason and no fault of the PR company.

But why not turn things around. Anyone who wants a hard copy, request one upon registration.

Today, a cheap, reliable, wireless printer like the HP 3635 can be bought for less than RM300. Have one (and a spare) set up at the registration table with as many ink cartridges and A4 sheets as you need (can always bring to the next event). Anyone who wants a hard copy gets one printed out in front of them. The moment they see that paper is being used for them, the burden on responsibility hits a little harder.

(Plus with “hardcopy request registration”, you can use the data of how many hardcopies get printed to show your client how much paper, ink and cost was saved compared to the old way).

We firmly believe that as individuals, nobody likes waste. But as corporate entities, members of an organisation, part of the system, a cog in the machine, waste feels like something that we can’t control. The moment you turn it around and ask the individual to take responsibility for the paper being used, we may see a huge change.

To Car Companies

Plug-in Hybrids may or may not save planet earth (through sheer acceleration alone), but cutting down on paper use certainly can’t hurt. Yes, there are tree farms, recycling programmes, etc. But the sheer energy and material and transport cost of having all of this printed out is just so avoidable. Do the right thing, cut the paper weight at events. What you do internally, is up to you.


About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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