Some ed tech experts and environmentalists believe technology could help make universities and public schools more eco-friendly by cutting paper usage, food waste and transportation emissions.
Every year, the Environmental Protection Agency releases a report detailing solid waste generation, greenhouse gas emissions and landfilling across the U.S., and paper waste in schools and the public sector has been a key concern. In 2018, the most recent year for which complete data is available, paper products comprised the largest proportion of municipal waste at over 23 percent.
However, the EPA saw a decline in paper waste from 87.7 million tons in 2000 to 67.4 million tons in 2018 as work increasingly moved online. Whether institutions were recycling paper or avoiding it altogether by going digital, paper waste has been cut drastically over the past decade. Now ed tech experts say the massive virtual shift that occurred as a result of coronavirus school closures could help schools reduce their carbon footprint even further.