For publications that can be printed on both sides, it certainly uses less paper to print on both sides. However, there are some caveats to any legislation that might aim in that direction.
First, there are some publications whose quality would be compromised. I am thinking specifically of artistic books, which suffer a loss of image quality when an image on the opposite side of the paper can be seen through the paper. One could argue that they could simply use thicker paper, but then we are back at increased paper consumption again, since thicker paper would require more paper pulp.
Another consideration is the old ethical “legislation of morality” issue. Each time we legislate prohibitions, we limit freedom. Sometimes, those limits are good and legitimate, and in this case I would say that the ultimate end is good, but there are some that might argue otherwise.
A lot of companies show their true “green” colors when they print manuals and other documentation single-sided. Thankfully, paper is easily recycled, so the ultimate impact of single-sided printing is not as great as it could be.
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