Information technology was supposed to let us taper off paper. But this is not the case. The idea of the paperless office, the bookless library, the printless newspaper, the cashless, checkless society have been proven illusionary. Computers have created the need for more paper, lots more rather than less. Computers are capturing much more information than was ever saved before and storing it incredibly compactly. Because reading things on a computer screen is relative inefficient, about 20 to 30% slower than print, people want information on paper. Paper will last for decades and a simple power surge can erase a computer's memory. The number of people whose work generates documents have increased. More business, government and professional people are requiring access to information which means the physical distribution of paper. The distinction between originals and copies has been blurred because of photocopying and laser printers.
From 1959 to 1986 USA consumption of writing and printing paper increased from 6.38 million tons to 21.99 million, or 320%, while the real gross national production rose 280%. It is estimated between 1981 and 1984 American business use of paper grew from 850 billion pages to 1.4 trillion. From 1936 to 1986, the volume of USA mail increase from 80 billion pieces a year to 146 billion pieces and the Postal Service estimates volume of 170 billion pieces by 1990. In 1985 USA banks processed 40 billion to 45 billion checks more than 66 times the number of electronic transfers.