Paper vs digital/touchless business cards

Touchless Business Cards: The Sustainable Future of Networking?

   For decades, paper business cards have been the norm in business and networking without question. However, their environmental impact is now under scrutiny.

The traditional business card may be adding to environmental waste. 

About 27 million business cards are printed each day, which adds up to 10 billion a year.

About 7 million trees need to be cut every year to meet this demand.

Studies made by Adobe research shows that a whopping 88% of business cards are tossed within a week.

Statistics show we’re using more resources and discarding more materials. Digital communication is rising, so we should consider if physical business cards are always needed.

It’s time to think about the environmental impact of paper business cards. As a result, NFC business cards have become popular in the past two years. They’re a tech alternative to paper cards and a greener way to exchange information.

The Ultimate Pros & Cons Comparison. 

First, we will look at the environmental impact of paper business cards. 

Let’s focus on the key statistics. Then, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using NFC business cards. We will consider sustainability, convenience, cost, culture, and technology. As of the current time (10.05.2024), the world has produced 339,837,625 tons of paper this year. Before we discuss a solution, we must first look at the harm of paper business cards. 3 main problems in the production of paper in general, and thus in the making of paper business cards as well.


Paper is one of the most important inventions. But, its production has a heavy cost. Trees are key in making paper. Experts estimate that producing 1 ton of office paper requires 24 trees. That’s over 1.4 billion trees felled for paper production each year. The widespread and systemic usage of paper business cards contributes to these numbers. As a result deforestation and environmental degradation.

 Water Usage

 Paper is one of the most important inventions. But, its production has a heavy cost. Trees are key in making paper. Experts estimate that producing 1 ton of office paper requires 24 trees. That’s over 1.4 billion trees felled for paper production each year. The widespread and systemic usage of paper business cards contributes to these numbers. As a result, deforestation and environmental degradation. Water Usage Making paper consumes lots of water. It takes 10 litres of water to produce a single sheet of paper. The industry uses the most water of any industry in the West. The paper industry faces a social and environmental challenge. It is due to wastewater and pollution. Pulp and paper mills produce various materials. These include ash, dregs, grits, lime mud, and pulp mill sludge.

Wastewater & Pollution Energy Consumption

The mills dispose of these materials in landfills or incinerate them. Additionally, wastewater also contains very complex gaseous, organic, and inorganic pollutants. During paper manufacturing, factories discharge pollutants. The list is very long, so buckle up. It includes hydrogen sulfides, sodium sulfide, methyl mercaptan, sulfur, and chlorine dioxide. Also, ferrous, copper, zinc, nickel, and magnesium. They contain hexadecanoic and octa-cosine acids. They also contain β-sitosterol trimethylsilyl ether, 1-tetradecane, 2-methoxy phenol, trichlorocatechol, and tetrachlorocatechol. They also contain chlorophenols, chloro-guaiacols, chlorosyringols, and chlorocatechols. They also have terpenes, methanol, phenols, and alkylated phenols. They also have decalone, benzoic acid, abietic acid, and dehydroabietic acid.

The wastewater problem is big. It’s clear when you consider that in the US alone, making 1 ton of paper in pulp and paper mills uses about 64,000 litres (or 17,000 gallons) of water. The most efficient mills use about a third of that. Paper manufacturing consumes lots of energy. This worsens environmental harm. The paper industry stands as the third-largest consumer of energy on a global scale. British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources. The Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator says it takes about 32 million BTU to make 1 ton of new paper fibre. It takes about 22 million BTU to make 1 ton of recycled paper. The touchless cards are a sustainable alternative. They cut environmental impact and reduce reliance on paper. Using one touchless-business card, instead of hundreds of paper ones, saves the life of many trees.

Let’s compare NFC business cards and paper business cards on 3 main aspects. 

They are sustainability, convenience and cost.


 A one touchless-business-cards NFC Business card is all you need. It’s a sustainable way to present yourself and your business. One of the most sustainable choices for products is basswood (Tilia Americana). It comes in bamboo or wood. Basswood earns its reputation for being renewable. It practices responsible forestry, has a low environmental impact, and stores carbon.

We print traditional paper business cards in batches of 300 or more. And, you need to reprint them each time.

That’s 27 million business cards printed daily in the USA alone.  All the above-mentioned deforestation, water and energy consumption, and wastewater pollution. In short, people cut millions of trees each year, and print billions of paper cards, and for what? People throw away 88% of cards within a week, ending up in landfills. Paper business cards are usually printed on 14-point card stock. It is thick. Or on 16-point card stock, which is thicker. gloss cover (thin). But, there are more paperweight options available. And, there are choices of recycled paper for the Eco-conscious.

2. Convenience 

A. NFC Business Cards It’s always on you, so you never run out of business cards. NFC cards are great for entrepreneurs and people at many companies. You can write and rewrite their content as much as you want. This means you can use one NFC business card to share a WhatsApp number. You can also share a website, a contact vCard, or a YouTube video or channel. The information can change. It can be different for each recipient. It depends on the context of the meeting. Instant upload of information on the phone in a tap. New staff can start networking immediately. Stand out and make a memorable first impression. Do this while networking, pitching, selling, and socialising. New title or address? No problem! Update your information. 

B. Traditional Paper Business Cards Ever heard or said…“Sorry, I ran out of business cards”? Of course you have, everybody has. People who work for many companies usually need one business card for each company. That’s 200 times the number of companies. The information on the card cannot change. It remains static. One business card will always provide only one set of information. You need to type, scan, or photograph the information on the card. People discard 88% of paper business cards within a week, ending up in the trash or landfills. New staff usually wait weeks for new business cards. 99% of paper cards are boring. They rely on a legacy template that has gone unchallenged for decades. A new title or address means reprinting a new batch of business cards (usually 200 cards). 

3. Cost

Touchless business cards are  cost-effective. One-off buy. No extra costs. Simple customisation with a logo or a name is enough to impress with this new and trendy technology. The quick upload of phone information is also impressive. It’s sure to make a memorable first impression and spark a conversation. All you need to customise an NFC card is to send a simple logo. Printing and reprinting paper business cards in batches of 200 or more is expensive. The quality of business cards shapes how people see professionalism. It reflects on a company or person. So, many try to get creative with their design and use higher-quality paper. But, this costs a lot. Someone needs to design the business card. Tools, programs, and freelancers are available. But, they likely involve some cost.

Challenges of touchless-business-cards vs. paper business cards

  1. The interlocutor does not keep touchless-business-cards. They won’t replace paper ones yet. But, they will cut the need for paper cards and reduce printing. The market is getting more educated. One NFC card at a time will spread acceptance of contactless info. People will feel the impact. 
  2.  Traditional Paper Business Cards. Paper business cards have been around for so long. It seems natural to get a business card and keep it. In some cultures, especially in Asia, exchanging business cards is very formal. For example, in China, people hand over a business card by holding it with both hands. The information faces the interlocutor. Handing out paper business cards is still used often. A digital alternative can’t replace them.
  3. People need to program NFC business cards using mobile apps. The ready Artorian’s solution comes with help. It has a choice of layouts and uses their software.

The recipient’s phone must have NFC enabled if one of the technologies is used . NFC phone penetration is high. 72% of smartphones have NFC. It is increasing as each new phone model has NFC. You may still encounter people with phones that are not compatible. On iPhone, iPhone XS and above, you can read NFC cards without the need to have any NFC reader application. All Android phones come NFC enabled. But, users must turn it on in the settings by toggling the switch. The NFC chip is in different places on iPhone and Android. On the iPhone, it is at the top, where the camera is. You can tap the NFC card on the front, at the camera level, or on the back at the top centre. On Android, the NFC chip is at the back and often in the middle or the top. QR code fallback. Most NFC cards rely on a QR code fallback. If the NFC is unavailable or unreadable for any reason, it results in this outcome. The Artorian has automatic QR code options for each link and contact created in the software. The laser engraved QR on metal card is the guarantor that it will be readable.

Traditional Paper Business Cards.

Many tools can design them, such as CanvaAdobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. You don’t need any technology to read the information. But, if the recipient wants to put the information into their phone, they have to type it. Or, they can scan the card with an app or take a photo of the card. You do not need any technology to read the card. But, we have all seen business cards with ridiculous font. They need glasses because of the strange sizes or colors used. Some business cards use QR codes. Printing them on the card makes it easy to enter the information into the recipient’s phone. But, you cannot change the QR code as it is static. So 1 business card will always give 1 set of information. 

We can see that paper business cards are bad for the environment. They cause deforestation, water use, and pollution. They also use a lot of energy. NFC digital business cards provide a greener alternative. They cut reliance on paper and limit harm to the environment. Paper business cards are tangible and personal. But, we cannot ignore their big environmental impact during production and their contribution to waste. NFC digital business cards leave much smaller footprint. They are also convenient, versatile, and, last but not least, cheaper. So it’s fair to say that NFC is a very good alternative, but it may not be a complete replacement yet, but rather a great compliment. When you choose between paper and NFC digital business cards, think about your preferences. Also, think about the local market norms and some tech factors. The NFC market is not very mature and needs more education. For more about NFC business cards, visit our website. It has examples of usage, tutorial videos, and a wide range of NFC business card models. They are at a very competitive price.

Touchless Business Cards (NFC and QR Business Cards)

  • Benefits
    • Sustainable: Reduces reliance on paper and minimises environmental impact.
    • Active sentence: Convenient: You always have it with you, no need to reprint, and you can update information.
    • Cost-effective: One-time purchase and customizable.
    • Memorable: Creates a lasting impression with instant information sharing.
  • Challenges
    • Not all cultures may have accepted these cultural norms yet.
    • Technology adoption: Requires NFC-enabled phones and some education for users.

Metal NFC Business Cards

Assuming metal NFC business cards combine the features of both metal and NFC cards, they would likely share these traits:

  • Benefits
    • Sustainable: More durable than paper cards and recyclable.
    • Stylish and professional: Metal offers a premium look and feel.
    • Convenient: Integrates NFC technology for contactless information sharing.
  • Challenges
    • Cost: It will be more expensive than plastic business cards.
    • Bulkier: Metal cards may be thicker and less flexible than other options.

Both touchless technologies: QR and NFC cards are innovative. They offer alternatives to paper cards. Consider your target audience and desired sophistication. Use these factors when choosing the best option for you. NFC tech is more convenient and shares information. QR can be used by many users. Metal adds a touch of class. 

Whether you choose a standard touchless card or a premium metal NFC option, you’ll be making a sustainable choice for a greener future.

Shopping Cart
Open chat
Need help?
Can we help you?