Paper and Digital Go Hand-in-Hand

Mar 09, 2018
By Mark Pitts
Executive Director, Printing-Writing and Pulp

In the United States, we grow nearly twice the number of trees than is harvested. And our industry achieves a consistently high recovery rate. In 2016, 67.2 percent of all paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling, and the recovery rate has met or exceeded 63 percent for the past eight years. That’s an impressive sustainability story.

Therefore it’s extremely unfortunate that we’re seeing editorials mischaracterizing the nature of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Proposed Rule 30e-3. These opinions miss two important facts: Paper is an environmentally responsible medium; and Americans like choice.

First, let’s explain the proposal again. The rule does not provide a choice for people to get mutual fund statements by paper or online – that already exists. Instead, the rule eliminates the current default requirement for financial companies to send information to their investors in paper form. Without consent, it automatically forces people to digital-only access to important personal investment information.

Some of the latest arguments for the proposal point to the “environmental stress” of sending paper documents. Paper comes from a renewable resource, which as previously stated, is grown sustainably. In fact, it is the demand for paper that creates the economic incentive that drives continual regeneration of forests and the delivery of carbon sequestration benefits. 

The fact is, 71 percent of American investors prefer to read their annual reports in paper format rather than online (according to SEC’s own study!). Forty-five percent of seniors, a high percentage of which invest in mutual funds, don’t own a computer and 30 percent of all citizens don’t have online access at home.

Paper and digital formats can work together to ensure that all citizens are properly served. The choice should be up to individual preference, not determined by regulators.