A new study by The CleanTech Group reinforces the argument that e-readers are ultimately more eco-friendly than print. The production of one e-reader is the equivalent of the production of 22.5 paper books. CleanTech predicts that e-readers will save 9.9 billion kg of CO2 over the next 3 years, when e-reader sales are expected to reach 14.4. In 2012, CleanTech predicts, e-readers will save 5.3 billion kg of CO2.

According to the report, it takes a year’s use for an e-reader to offset its carbon emissions. After that, they offset on average 168 kg of CO2 per year if they buy three e-books a month.

While the production emissions of a single e-reader vastly outweigh a book’s (169 kg of CO2 vs. 7.5 kg) using an e-reader’s full storage capacity would offset nearly 11,185 kg of CO2 emissions.

“Multiplied by millions of units and increased sales of e-books, e-readers will have a staggering impact on improving the sustainability and environmental impact on one of the world’s most polluting industries: the publishing of books, newspapers and magazines,” said the report’s author, Emma Rich.

In 2007, 125 million trees were harvested by the book and magazine industries, with brick-and-mortar bookstores leaving twice the carbon footprint of online retailers.

By Mark Alvarez