Two Sides Gets 278 Leading Companies to Remove Anti-paper Claims
In its continued quest to promote the sustainability of print and paper, Two Sides researched the marketing messages of more than 600 of the world’s leading corporations, including banks, utilities, telecoms and insurance providers.
The independent nonprofit organization confirmed that 460 of those companies had been using “misleading and unsubstantiated” environmental statements, as they sought to replace paper-based communications with lower-cost electronic alternatives. According to a press release, after ongoing engagement, Two Sides managed to get 278 companies to remove such statements—a 61 percent success rate.
Martyn Eusatce, chairman of Two Sides UK, was pleased with the victory, but acknowledged that there still is much work to be done. On a global scale, Two Sides teams are taking steps to combat greenwashing in their respective countries.
Below is a roundup of commentary from various Two Sides leaders, obtained from a press release:
Over 88 major corporations, including many of the Fortune 500, have now changed or removed misleading environmental claims about print and paper to comply with country-specific environmental marketing guidelines. Our discussions with chief marketing officers, chief sustainability officers and others, have been very productive and we are pleased with the collaboration of North America’s leading organizations. Thanks to an overall better understanding of the unique sustainable features of paper products, 'go green - go paperless' and 'save a tree' claims are gradually disappearing from the marketplace.
– Phil Riebel, president, Two Sides North America
Australia & New Zealand
It is our responsibility as an industry, but also as part of broader environmental education, to challenge misinformation about the impact of communication channels. Greenwashing is a threat to our industry and we work very hard to ensure companies making the wrong claims correct their communications. Of the companies we have contacted in Australia, 73 percent have altered their anti-print messaging, and the remaining we continue to engage with.
– Kellie Northwood, executive director, Two Sides Australia and New Zealand
This year Two Sides Brazil has chosen the fight against greenwashing as a No. 1 priority. Reaching an agreement with the public sector, toward the withdrawal of several instances of misleading content on websites or public declarations, was probably our best achievement in 2017. Brazil has just become the second-largest pulp producer in the world, showing the importance for widespread environmental education in such a large country. Everyone in the world has the right to know that print and paper are not hostile to the environment and add immense value to our civilization.
– Fabio Arruda Mortara, country manager, Two Sides in Brazil
We continue to engage with corporates and government institutions regarding their environmental messaging to their customers and citizens. There remains a concern that conventional wisdom linking the use of paper to the destruction of forests remains prevalent and unchallenged. Not only are plantation trees grown to be harvested, just like any crop, these plantations provide commercial and surprisingly good environmental benefits to our world. In addition, in a recent Toluna research project conducted in South Africa, 92 percent of consumers want to be able to choose how they receive communication from corporations and government.
– Deon Joubert, executive director, Two Sides South Africa
During the first year of the campaign, we collaborated with the government to remove any mention of ‘zero paper’ from their National Development Plan for the next four years. However, the challenge continues. We must contact every company that is using greenwash, and make them understand that the process of paper production can be a sustainable one.
– Isabel Riveros, executive director, Two Sides in Colombia
Our research shows clearly that consumers’ perception on the sustainability of print and paper is negatively influenced by marketing of digitalization. We will continue to engage organizations with the facts how paper based communications are a sustainable choice.
– Hadrien Cottin, Two Sides France
We have an active campaign to research and remove greenwash in the UK, with a very encouraging response. 83 percent of all companies we have engaged have agreed to remove misleading messages, and in many cases, we have helped organizations amend their marketing communication guidelines.
– Jonathan Tame, country manager, Two Sides UK
Eustace offered his final thoughts:
Consumers should not be misled and encouraged to go ‘paperless’ through the use of misleading ‘green’ marketing. The environmental and social benefits of paper are being overlooked by these false and damaging messages. Based on our consumer surveys, the majority of consumers recognize that paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and used, can be a sustainable way to communicate—while also providing real benefits of tangibility, authenticity and authority that can be lacking in electronic communications. Forests are a precious and growing resource, and the forest and paper industries are some of their most important guardians.
Related story: Major Brand-name Companies Remove Anti-paper Claims From Marketing Campaigns
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.