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The first half of 2023 was incredibly busy – we saw the introduction of the Mac Studio, the Studio Display, a completely redesigned MacBook Air, and more. Apple also unveiled its next round of software updates, including iOS 16, at WWDC in June.
But Apple’s year is far from over, and there are a lot of announcements still to come. Here’s everything we know.Mac Pro
The Apple Silicon transition will continue into the rest 2023 — and this could be the year that the transition is completed. According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning a new Mac Pro powered by Apple Silicon. This machine could be around half the size of the current Mac Pro in terms of design.
Apple even teased the launch of the new Mac Pro during its special event in March. Apple VP John Ternus said: “That leaves just one more product to go: Mac Pro, but that’s for another day.”
The new Mac Pro is rumored to come in 20 or 40 computing core configurations, made up of 16 high-performance or 32 high-performance cores and four or eight high-efficiency cores. GPU options would reportedly include 64-core and 128-core options.Redesigned iPad Pro
The iPad Pro got a notable update in 2023 with a transition to the M1 chip for power as well as a mini-LED display in the 12.9-inch. Not long after the 2023 iPad Pro was announced, rumors started circulating about what to expect from the next-generation model.
Bloomberg has reported that Apple is developing a redesigned iPad Pro with a glass back. This change would allow for the iPad Pro to support wireless charging for the first time, as well as reverse wireless charging.
Reverse wireless charging would allow you to place a wireless charging-compatible device, such as an iPhone or AirPods, on the back of the iPad Pro to recharge that device. The power would be shared from the iPad Pro to the other device.
More recently, however, 9to5Mac learned that Apple has scaled back its plans for an iPad Pro redesign. Instead of a completely glass back, the company is planning a larger glass Apple logo that would support wireless charging.
Another change reportedly coming with the 2023 iPad Pro is an expansion of mini-LED display technology to the 11-inch iPad Pro for the first time; this is the display technology that first came to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in 2023.
As for a release date, iPadOS 16 is expected to be released sometime in October. The current rumor is that the new iPad Pro hardware will also be released around that same time.iPad 10
The new iPad 10 is also rumored to switch to USB-C from Lightning for charging and data transfer. The form factor is also expected to be updated with flat edges similar to iPad Pro, iPad Pro, and iPad mini.
You can learn more about the iPad 10 in our complete roundup right here.iPhone 14
We can’t forget the iPhone 14. The iPhone 14 is rumored to be a major overhaul to the iPhone lineup, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting that the lineup will consist of two 6.1-inch models and two 6.7-inch models.
The 2023 iPhone lineup could look something like this in terms of marketing names: iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Kuo says that the iPhone 14 Max will represent the lowest price ever for a large 6.7-inch iPhone, potentially at around $900.
While some earlier reports suggested the iPhone 14 could feature a design similar to the iPhone 4, the latest rumors say Apple is planning a more modest redesign instead. In fact, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max are expected to look nearly identical to the current iPhone 13.
The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, however, are rumored to ditch the notch.
Instead of the notch, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected to feature a new hole-punch + pill-shaped design. It makes sense for Apple to adopt this design with the iPhone 14, with the “punch-hole” housing the camera that’s currently located in the notch.
The iPhone 14 will also include dramatic improvements to the front-facing camera, according to Kuo, with support for auto focus for the first time. In terms of the rear camera, Kuo says the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will be upgraded to 48-megapixels, an increase from the 12-megapixel sensor in iPhone 12.
The iPhone 14 lineup is expected to be announced and released sometime in September of 2023. While there have been rumors of a delay, the latest reporting suggests everything is on schedule for a September launch.Apple Watch Series 8 with new health features
The Apple Watch lineup is also expected to be overhauled in 2023. Kuo has reported that Apple will release three new Apple Watch models in the fall of 2023, including a new high-end Apple Watch Series 8, a new Apple Watch SE, and the previously-rumored rugged sports version.
In terms of health technologies, the Apple Watch Series 8 is expected to add a body temperature sensor, enabling additional health and fitness tracking. Bloomberg has reported that this sensor won’t give you your actual body temperature, but rather alert you when your temperature is elevated.
A recent leak also shed more light on what to expect from the Apple Watch hardware and software. According to the source, Apple Watch Series 8 will look like this:
41mm and 45mm like Series 7 design
Aluminum in starlight, midnight, product red, and silver
Stainless steel in silver, graphite, and gold
No titanium model in this version
Apple also reportedly has a new watch face coming for the Apple Watch Series 8. The hardware is also expected to use a “stronger glue” for the watch casing on the Series 8 compared to the Series 7, which will improve durability.Apple Watch Pro
But the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE aren’t the only new watches coming this September – Apple is also working on a new Apple Watch Pro model as well.
Reports suggest that the Apple Watch Pro will be an “evolution of the current rectangular shape.”
One of the key changes to the Apple Watch Pro will be the materials from which it’s made. The Apple Watch Pro will reportedly feature a “more durable formulation of titanium” as part of Apple’s efforts to make it as rugged as possible. This lines up with the Apple Watch Series 8 not being available in titanium.
The Apple Watch Pro is also expected to offer increased battery life. The Apple Watch Pro could also offer exclusive features for fitness and health tracking that require longer battery life .
Learn more about the Apple Watch Pro right here in our full guide.AirPods Pro 2
Apple is also reportedly planning new second-generation AirPods Pro for release in 2023. This announcement will come three years after the first version of AirPods Pro was released.
Initial reporting on AirPods Pro 2 indicated they would feature a “more compact” design that removes the stem that current sticks out from the bottom of the AirPods Pro. Apple, however, is said to have struggled with this redesign and is now planning to keep the same form factor.
But many new features are still expected to come with AirPods Pro 2, including a new design for the charging case. 52audio shared an image of that new charging case, showing off a slightly new form factor alongside speaker holes on the bottom of the case for Find My.
There’s also a pair of metal holes on the side of the AirPods Pro 2 case, which appears to be designed to allow you to attach a strap to the case, similar to many third-party accessories that exist today.
AirPods Pro 2 are also rumored to come with some new features related to audio quality. According to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, AirPods Pro 2 will be the first of Apple’s AirPods products to offer support for lossless audio playback.
Last but not least, Apple is also planning to upgrade its 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with new chips inside. The MacBook Pro just got a major overhaul last year, so this year’s update is expected to focus solely on spec improvements.
Bloomberg has reported that new versions of the MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are expected as soon as this fall. This update could ultimately be pushed to 2023, however.Other possibilities
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Everything Apple will reveal at WWDC 2023 New MacBooks coming soon
All of these new MacBooks are expected to arrive by the end of the year or at the latest, the beginning of next year. The Air from 15 may be announced on stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, but for others, we’ll have to wait. Apple hopes these new MacBooks will revive their struggling Mac sector, which saw a sales drop of over 40% year on year in the last quarter.New operating systems
The annual WWDC event from Apple is known for unveiling new “major releases” of their operating systems. People eagerly anticipate what’s in store for the iPhone and iPad, but this year, watchOS may steal the show with a significant update. According to Gurman, there will be a profound renewal for the Apple Watch operating system, with a major update that promises significant improvements, including an updated interface. Unfortunately, there’s not much information available yet on what these changes will entail.iOS 17
In 2023, there were significant changes made to the iPhone and iPad with the introduction of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 software updates. Apple focused more on personalization in iOS 16, while iPadOS 16 aimed to improve multitasking with Stage Manager. However, these feature upgrades were accompanied by stability issues that many users reported.
Apple has dealt with such updates in the past by releasing tuneup versions, such as iOS 12. It’s focused on improving the overall user experience. We expect that iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 will take a similar route towards bug fixing and improving performance. However, Mark Gurman hinted that the updates will also bring user requested features in a tweet.
Initially, when Apple began developing iOS 17, the plan was to make it a tuneup release, similar to Snow Leopard on Mac OS X in 2009, which focused on fixing bugs and improving performance rather than adding new features. The hope was to avoid issues faced by iOS 16. It was ambitious but suffered from missed deadlines and a buggy start. However, the strategy changed later in the development process.
The iOS 17 release, codenamed “Dawn,” is expected to have several “nice to have” features, although it may lack big improvements like last year’s revamped lock screen. The goal of the software is to address several of the most requested features by users.macOS 14 Gizchina News of the week
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In 2023, the macOS Big Sur (macOS 11) update brought about a visual overhaul of the operating system. This included a new transparent aesthetic applied to all windows and the introduction of new icons.
Ever since that update, every subsequent macOS update has been geared towards improving the productivity experience and delivering the seamless functionality that Apple is renowned for.
The current version of macOS, called macOS Ventura, has added some standout features. These include Stage Manager and Continuity Camera, along with Handoff for FaceTime. With the integration between Apple devices on display through the latter two features, we anticipate that the 2023 version upgrade will showcase even more of this integration.
Should Apple decide to incorporate user requested features into the Macs, we would like to see them expand on the widgets. This would enable users to pin these widgets onto the large canvas of their desktop, providing a more personalized experience.watchOS 10 and tvOS 17
In the world of Apple’s operating platforms, we expect watchOS and tvOS to receive version upgrades. Like macOS, Apple treated these two platforms kindly in 2023. Users didn’t report many glitches, and Apple consistently added features to enhance the user experience.
Speaking of tvOS, the most recent addition to this platform is a feature that can dim flashing lights within a video sequence. This feature helps users deal with sudden fluctuations in brightness. Moreover, Apple Music Sing was introduced when tvOS 16.2 launched. We hope to see more unique features like these with tvOS 17.
As for watchOS, in 2023, Apple provided more fitness statistics to users with watchOS 9. This version also introduced hiking friendly features like waypoints. Additionally, the Apple Watch Ultra was launched. It’s a wearable more geared towards individuals who tackle the pinnacle of sporting experiences. Looking ahead to watchOS 10, we hope Apple develops its fitness statistics readouts more and improves sleep tracking by not limiting it to the window when Bedtime Mode is active.A new iPad mini
In September 2023, Apple unveiled the sixth generation iPad mini. Now, there are talks of a seventh generation iPad mini, which may not have significant changes. The updates could likely be related to the processor and some technical details. Apple may announce its new features at WWDC 2023.
There haven’t been any concrete rumors about this yet. But it’s possible that the new iPad could be available by the end of 2023. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst, suggests that Apple could start mass shipments of the seventh generation iPad in late 2023 or at the latest, in the first half of 2024.Apple mixed-reality New retail stores
This week, Apple will open retail stores in India. The CEO, Tim Cook, will be there. Apple is opening a pair of stores in India during the same week, which is rare. The first store in the country is located at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai. And it will open on April 18. The second location is in the Saket area of New Delhi and will debut on April 20. Cook will be in attendance for both events.
India has become increasingly important to Apple. It has gained more status within Apple’s sales group. India is even taking over some production from China. The country of India is now one of Apple’s most important regions.
Released as a developer-only preview at Google’s annual conference back in March, the latest version of the Android operating system for smartphones, tablets and watches—officially called Android 8.0 Oreo—is now available through the Android Open Source Project.Key features in Android Oreo
Google pitches the latest and greatest version of the Android software as being smarter, safer, faster, more powerful and seamless than before. Plus, it’s “sweeter than ever”.
Faster navigation throughout the operating system itself and within your favorite apps is now a reality with arrow and tab-based keyboard navigation support in Android Oreo.
Icons can now change their appearance and shape to reflect your chosen Home screen theme and support visual effects including the parallax effect as seen on the Apple TV icons.
Much bigger changes are available for Android’s notifications system.
For starters, notifications can now be snoozed and apps can remove a snoozed notification without it reappearing. Android’s all-new notification dots, which have similar functionality like app badges on iOS, make it easier to see which apps have new content to display.
Not unlike 3D-touching app icons on iPhone, Android Oreo now displays an app widget along with important information like the last notification received when you long-tap its icon.
Alerts can now be batched in topic-based groups, known as channels.
You can easily block all alerts from a channel at once or change the behavior of each channel individually by adjusting such characteristics as importance, sound, lights, vibration and whether or not the channel is shown on the Lock screen or overrides Do Not Disturb mode.
Notifications can also have differently colored backgrounds, making it easier to visually separate, say, alerts for incoming messages from those containing driving directions.
In case you’ve been wondering, yes, Android Oreo packs in support for the new Unicode 10 emoji characters, such as exploding head, vampire, zombie, hedgehog, giraffe, fortune cookie and more. And in major visual change that could potentially irk many users, Google’s redesigned existing Android emojis so say goodbye to the iconic emoji blobs.
On to the other changes…
Historic chats can now appear in messaging notifications, like iOS’s interactive Messages alerts. All of the new features for notifications in Android Oreo can be managed through the Settings app or simply long-tap an alert to adjust its features inline.
Picture in picture (PiP) video, which debuted in Android TV, is now coming to phones and tablets with Android Oreo. Previously, phone vendors like Samsung had to develop their own picture-in-picture implementation but now all compatible devices get this for free.
With this capability, users can do things like continue watching a video in a floating overlay while answering a chat or hailing a car. User-selectable aspect ratio and play/pause controls make it easy to customize the PiP window to your liking.
Android Oreo further improves battery life by imposing new automatic limits on what apps are permitted to do while they’re in the background.
“As a starting point, we’re allowing background apps to receive location updates only a few times each hour,” Google says. “We’re continuing to tune the location update interval throughout the preview based on system impact and feedback from developers”.
As for the under-the-hood changes in Android Oreo, there are new APIs for autofillers, multi-processes, low-latency audio and system-level integration with VoIP apps.
Google Safe Browsing is now supported in apps’ web views.
Wi-Fi Aware, formerly Neighbor Awareness Networking, lets devices with compatible wireless hardware communicate with each other directly, without an Internet access point.
High-quality Bluetooth audio codecs like Sony’s LDAC are now supported.
Fonts are now a fully supported resource type in Android. Support for multi-display configurations has been implemented as well. Users can now cherry-pick a default app for autofill and apps should launch and run faster thanks to up to a twofold increase for the Android Runtime on certain app benchmarks.
Last but not least, Android Oreo brings many new capabilities that make the software more secure and easier to deploy and manage in corporate environments.Android Oreo availability
The Android 8.0 Oreo software update for Google’s own Pixel and Nexus devices is currently being tested by carriers and will release in the near future, said the search firm today.
As is the case with Android updates, owners of non-Google smartphones and tablets will need to wait much longer for the Oreo update.
“By the end of this year, hardware makers including Essential, General Mobile, HMD Global Home of Nokia Phones, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony are scheduled to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 Oreo,” said Google.
It’s not unusual for some carriers and OEMs to avoid updating existing devices altogether, opting instead to push their existing consumers toward buying the latest hardware.
To illustrate that point, Android Nougat—which is Google’s previous major version of the operating system—was installed on just 13.5 percent of devices as of August 8.
To put this in perspective, iOS 10 currently powers 87 percent of compatible active devices. Both iOS 10 and Android Nougat were released roughly around the same time a year ago.
According to Google’s own stats, which exclude white label hardware and devices that don’t run Google Play Services, older Android versions like 5.0 Lollipop (released in 2014) and 6.0 Marshmallow (from 2024) still power nearly two-thirds of compatible devices.Your thoughts on Android Oreo
So, what are your thoughts and feelings about Android Oreo?
A fellow affiliate marketer and blogger with the name Andrew Wee from chúng tôi was writing an interesting post while I was heading to Affiliate Summit East in Miami two weeks ago.
I liked the post, because it had two nice paragraphs about what I am doing as well as a link to my site. I would never complain about that. It looked funny. The article shows ten site reviews with a link to each of the ten sites also included. On top of them are the rules explained and illustrated on an example. Andrew removed the 10th review at the end added the review of chúng tôi on top of it to make it ten reviews again. His site was reviewed by somebody else before, that review was right below the one he did for me.
I started a response explaining that chúng tôi is a resources site and not the place for a tag-me game or link carnival and that this seems to be some sort of pyramid scheme anyway. While I was pointing to things in his article and the concept, did I realize that this is a bit more than a pyramid scheme and much smarter. Somebody changed it to hide the pyramid scheme concept.
The pyramid scheme was hidden by this rule that states:
Remove the Bottom Review and At the Top add your own review with a link to a site reviewed, at least 2 sentences about the site and a note – Reviewed by: Your Anchor Text. Link your anchor text to your site. Here is an example: ….
The creator of the scheme is Alex Sysoef from chúng tôi who started chúng tôi just recently. The first post made was on April 19, 2007. Jack Humphrey is Alex friend who helps to get the thing going.
Look at the Reviews at Andrews Blog.
10 = Me reviewed by Andrew 9 = Andrew reviewed by Michelle MacPherson 8 = Michelle MacPherson not reviewed, jumped in for Peter / Peter Lenkefi reviewed by Jack Humphrey / 7 = Andy Coates reviewed by chúng tôi (“WordPress Web 2.0 Guide”* link) 6 – 1 = (and two already removed) were lucky but uninvolved bystanders. All of these sites were reviewed by “Alex”, no link provided.
It started out like this at Jacks blog two “steps” earlier:
10 Helper Jack Humphrey 9 Scammer Alex Sysoef 8-1 Dummies
If everything goes well and eight to nine people fall for the trick, nine links will be earned by Alex Sysoef (Jack links also to him) and nine by Jack, who is on top of the list.
*Not too bad, keep in mind that the links are targeted (the eight pre-done reviews are written to support Alex main key phrase “WordPress Web 2.0 Guide”) and have the right anchor text in the link.
Now Alex thought that there is more to get out of it. Did you notice the little example that is mentioned in the rules? Did you also notice that the example has two (now three**) links?
“WordPress Web 2.0 Guide” and “WordPress Web 2.0 Spot-er”, both pointing to chúng tôi Alex intended to ride the cut down “pyramid” to wherever end it will take him. That greed was also breaking its neck. I was only the small pyramid.
The first reviews were right on the target for the content of the to be promoted site, but the scam was send off into a different direction, internet marketers with little SEO knowledge, but enough knowledge to buy into the promising looking idea, which is also so Web 2.0.
What Alex not realized is that the bloggers (so far) were always nice giving credits to the person who had the idea and were writing and linking to Alex site outside the “carnival” scheme in their surrounding post. Okay, it would not be the right anchor text, but hey, ten good anchor texts where you also know that some of the content will be relevant to what you promote, is enough and more than you could hope for. He should have taken it and hope for the bloggers to do what they do, reference the source and leave it at that.
**The targeted anchor text idea broke already apart with the first blogger who was not involved in this scheme, Michelle MacPherson who broke the one link “WordPress Web 2.0 Guide” that was pointing to chúng tôi in the example (hey, she did at least noticed the links) down into two links. “WordPress” was now linking to chúng tôi “Web 2.0” to Michelle’s site, and “Guide” ended up being bolder but not linked anymore. Damn you Michelle. Michelle seem also not to be so “white hat” in his ideals. My friend Andrew was also not so innocent and decided to make the word “blogging” at the “official” introduction a link to one of his properties.
Note that Jack originally reviewed Peter who didn’t do anything on his blog. That made Michelle jump in for unknown reasons and pick it up, without her site being reviewed and in that list. That would exlain her sneaky link additions though.
I had a very good laugh.
It did not get very far how it seems. Only two people who decided to change the rules of the game a little bit too.
Alex got links from three other sites, Jack from two, Michelle none (because she jumped in for Peter who got the link from Jack) from one and Andrew from none, okay one from this one (actually three links from this post). I hope that it will help to heal the damaged pride.
Five uninvolved sites got three relevant links out of it, one site two and another site one. They seem to be the real winners in this. The blog tagging frenzy and this viral marketing hype makes some people forget about the basic principles of Ponzi-Schemes and pyramid scams. Social web is nice and good, having hundreds of friends at MySpace or Facebook also, but keep in mind that not everybody who pretends to be your friend is always interested in your well being but his own.
How Google pays Apple in 2023
The sources for the following information is varied, and only the FIRST is certain due to a court filing. That court filing appeared in January of 2024 during a court battle between Google and Oracle. As the court transcript revealed and we wrote, “Google paid Apple something along the lines of $1 billion in 2014 so that Apple would retain it as the web search engine of choice in the Search Bar feature on the iPhone.”
Google’s payment there was for what’s known as traffic acquisition costs (TAC). “Court documents indicate that Google paid Apple $1B in 2014, and we estimate that total Google payments to Apple in FY 17 may approach $3B,” said Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi on CNBC on August 15th, 2023. “Given that Google payments are nearly all profit for Apple, Google alone may account for 5% of Apple’s total operating profits this year, and may account for 25% of total company OP growth over the last two years.”
The latest per-year estimate for financial year 2023 (FY 18) comes from Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall. VIA Business Insider, Hall’s investor note suggested that Google’s TAC payment to Apple for FY 18 might be around $9 billion, and will likely ramp up to $12 billion in 2023.
That’d mean this was Google’s TAC bill each year:
• 2014 $1-billion
• 2024 ?
• 2024 ?
• 2023 $3-billion
• 2023 $9-billion
• 2023 $12-billion
What made Apple’s costs ramp up at such a rate? According to Hall’s note, “We believe this revenue is charged ratably based on the number of searches that users on Apple’s platform originate from Siri or within the Safari browser.”
Over at SearchEngineLand there’s a timeline which I’ll reproduce here in brief. They give all the sources there – most of which were straight from Google at press events. You can also head back to Internet Archive archived Google Zeitgeists for 2001 through 2007. This is TOTAL Google Searches, not just searches generated through Apple products.
Total Google Searches Per Year:
• 1999: 1-billion
• 2000: 14-billion (very approximate)
• 2001: 55-billion (rounded up)
• 2002: 55-billion (rounded down)
• 2003: 55-billion (rounded down) (maybe just copy-pasted?)
• 2004: 73-billion
• 2005: More than 73-billion
• 2006: ?
• 2007: ?
• 2008: ?
• 2009: 365-billion (and more)
• 2010: ?
• 2011: ?
• 2012: 1.2-TRILLION
• 2013: ?
• 2014: ?
• 2024: ?
• 2024: 2-TRILLION (Based on Search Engine Land estimate)
• 2023: ?
• 2023: ?
It’s pretty obvious Google’s searches are going up each year by multiples of previous years. As more of the world’s citizens get smartphones in their hand, searches continue to ramp up. But at which point does this growth level off? Surely there’s a point at which everyone is searching the maximum amount they’re able, and there’s no reason to think any more people would search than searched the year before?
No matter which way you look at the situation, Google and Apple hold eachother’s fates in their hands. Or at least a significant amount of search traffic and/or services revenue. Next up: voice searches – and whether the always-on assistant will keep that searches-per-year number increasing at an extreme rate.
You’ve heard it dozens of times in the checkout line of your local grocery store—paper or plastic? And while we know that plastic comes with a multitude of issues for the planet, paper isn’t so black and white.
Over the decades, the manufacturing of paper products has become more sustainable, and there are still even more innovations on the horizon. In some cases, classic paper products like cardboard boxes and tissues don’t even need trees. These products used are generally made from virgin fibers, recycled fibers, or a mix of both.
Virgin fibers come from fresh wood cut down specifically for the purpose of making new paper and pose the largest environmental risk. Recycled fibers from old paper products make the papermaking process significantly more friendly to both trees and landfills. Luckily, around 80 percent of all US paper mills use at least some recycled fiber to make paper products according to the paper and wood products trade group the American Forest and Paper Association.
Here’s what else you need to know about the centuries-old commodity and its environmental footprint.Which trees turn into paper products?
The leafy saplings growing in your yard, the park, or even the forest tend not to be where paper originates. “The trees [for paper] are actually grown as a crop,” says Gary M. Scott, a professor of paper and bioproducts engineering at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
There’s a misconception, he says, that paper companies in the US cut down old-growth forests. “But most, if not all, paper companies harvest their wood in a sustainable fashion so that there is no net loss of forest land,” he says. The American Forest and Paper Association wrote in their 2023 annual report that 99 percent of their members get wood fiber from certified sustainable suppliers that take measures to replant trees and reduce the risk of wildfire. Some countries like Canada even have strict forest sustainability laws.
Virgin wood fiber isn’t typically taken from old-growth forests, says Ronalds Gonzalez, an assistant professor of supply chain and conversion economics at North Carolina State University, because it is “very expensive and inefficient to use natural forests” instead of tree plantations. Pine and fir trees for the paper industry typically grow on plantations and are harvested on decadal time scales.
[Related: Most stuff that could be recycled isn’t.]
In a 2023 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council called “The Issue With Tissue 2.0”, NRDC says major bath tissue companies have been using trees from boreal forests in Canada to make toilet paper, which is contributing to the loss of intact, non-fragmented forests. The report says companies often state they plant more trees than they cut down. Still, cutting down old-growth forests and replacing them with new trees doesn’t always help with biodiversity loss or carbon emissions associated with deforestation, according to the BBC.
Clearcut areas stay barren for years, even after replanting new trees. These fragmented forests create a less desirable habitat for animals such as caribou, whose populations are in severe decline. The Forest Products Association of Canada told Reuters last June that the NRDC report “misrepresents our industry” and wrote on their website that Canadian boreal forests are a sustainably managed source of trees.How are paper products made?
Wood being cut down isn’t the only impact that papermaking has on the environment. Once logs are chipped into small pieces, they are mixed with chemicals that remove material that makes wood stiff, called lignin, and reveal the soft pulp underneath. . The leftover toxic chemical liquid mix that remains is known as black liquor. “That black liquor is not just disposed of,” Scott says. “It goes into what we call a recovery process.”
First, the organic material leftover in the liquor burns in a recovery boiler, which potentially generates energy for the paper mill. Then Scott says, those same papermaking chemicals can be recovered and reused again. Even though there are ways to effectively clean up black liquor, some are too expensive and the pollutants still end up entering the environment.
[Related: Young trees have special adaptations that could save the Amazon.]
The pulp is bleached with chlorine bleach to make it bright white, but this chemical has fallen out of favor at some paper mills and faced regulation because it can harm nearby aquatic life. A more environmentally friendly option, elemental chlorine-free bleach, can be applied to pulp to achieve the same effect. Still, the only way to be sure no chlorine products made their way into your paper production is by searching for and buying totally chlorine-free paper. A mill typically uses 17,000 gallons of water per ton of paper but some of this water, specifically during the bleaching stage, is reuseable if the bleach does not contain chlorine.
While the paper industry has become more sustainable over the last few decades, Scott says, there are still ways to improve. The good news is, in the US, people are good about recycling paper products. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, the 2023 paper recycling rate was 65.7 percent, with a rate of 88.8 percent of cardboard. Scott says much of the paper that ends up unrecycled is bath tissue—which is difficult to recover for obvious reasons. Paper that ends up in the landfill emits methane and carbon as it decomposes, similarly to other organic materials.What is the future of sustainability and paper?
Gonzalez says consumers do care about the sustainability of their products, even down to their toilet paper. “There is a new trend that consumers are trying to use brown paper more than white paper,” he says, which means paper mills might be able to skip the bleach. The way to more sustainable toilet paper is to include more recycled paper, so consumers can look for these products on the store shelves (the NRDC recommends Seventh Generation and Trader Joes, which both use 100 percent recycled fiber).
“We have been doing research over the last six to seven years, with real data, and we are seeing how people are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products,” Gonzalez says. He says he has been working on research that would create sustainability metrics for paper products, making it easier for people to choose what they want to buy.
Sustainable products sometimes lack that softness we all have come to know and expect from our toilet paper and tissues, but Gonzalez says technology is improving. It is even possible to make soft bathroom paper from plants other than trees, he says, out of agricultural residues that’d typically go to waste such as leftovers from sugarcane. Agricultural waste from crops like okra and broad beans also makes for potential base material for other types of paper and cardboard.
More creative sources for paper could mean, in the long run, less of a reliance on trees. But seeing as our paper use has quadrupled in the past 50 years, we will still need sustainably managed resources to keep up our habit.
“I’m a believer that we should have some areas that are dedicated to growing trees, specifically to supply the demand of our society,” Gonzalez says about creating paper resources. “And then we have all the natural areas that we do not touch at all.”
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