Our work on reducing paper consumption in Europe is our top priority, but this doesn’t mean we hate all paper! Some uses of paper are really beneficial, like the paper in our passports, good books and some sanitary applications. But other kinds of paper have little social value. There is a spectrum of what we call ‘paper utility’ ranging from very useful to not useful at all.

As part of our Shrink Paper project (see shrinkpaper.org) to encourage paper saving, we are keen to identify the most wasteful kinds of paper use and focus on them. To help with this we are developing a tool to encourage big paper consumers to understand the social utility of the paper they use. And you can help.

Take our Paper Utility Survey and tell us which kinds of paper you think are useful, and which not. We’ll publish the results here. We have already done some trials of this, and the results are intriguing. A sample of German paper users, for example, thought that books have higher utility than money and that paper cups are less useful than advertising leaflets. What do you think? You can tell us your views here!