Calculating the Greenhouse Gas and Water Impacts of Electronic Versus Paper Delivery of Bank Statements

To help a financial services client calculate the difference in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water consumption between electronic and paper statement, WSP USA conducted a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA).



Location

  • United States

Project Status

  • Completed 2019

A financial services client wanted to better understand the GHG and water impacts of delivering bank statements electronically versus by mail. To determine which statement delivery method minimizes environmental impact, and inform accurate internal and external messaging on findings, the company needed a scientific way to calculate the difference in delivery methods.

WSP performed an International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-conformant comparative LCA, incorporating several sensitivity analyses: assumed percentage of at-home printed statements, the system boundary, internet electricity use, and end of life treatment of paper assumptions. The LCA results demonstrated an appreciable reduction in GHG and water impacts associated with electronic statements as compared to paper statements delivered by mail.

After writing a robust report summarizing the results of the study, WSP guided the report through the prescribed ISO review process—the ISO standards that govern LCA require a third-party review by a panel of three independent experts to ensure the study was properly conducted. External critical review mitigates risks associated with making public statements about the comparative impacts of products and is best practice.

The result was a rigorous and critically-reviewed report our client can share publicly to substantiate communications about GHG emissions and water consumption reductions from the use of electronic bank statements. WSP also supported the company in developing scientifically accurate external messaging supported by the LCA results.

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