As banks, utilities, telecom companies and government agencies face mounting economic uncertainties, many of these services providers are looking to cut costs by encouraging their customers to switch from paper to digital communications. But all too often, these cost-cutting appeals are cloaked in unsubstantiated and misleading environmental marketing claims that suggest going paperless is “green,” “saves trees” or “is better for the environment.”
“These greenwashing claims not only fail to comply with established environmental marketing standards, but they also damage consumer perceptions of paper’s environmental sustainability,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “And that’s a threat to the economic security of millions of people in the United States and Canada whose livelihoods depend on the paper, print and mailing sector.”
North America’s leading corporations and other service providers influence millions of consumers every day with their anti-paper greenwashing claims, leading many to believe that the use of paper is destroying forests and is bad for the environment. For example, a 2021 Two Sides survey of U.S. consumers showed that 60% believe that U.S. forests are shrinking, when in fact, U.S. net forest area increased by 18 million acres over the past 30 years – the equivalent of 1,200 NFL football fields every day – according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment. The UN FAO reports that Canada’s net forest area remained stable at around 857 million acres during the same period.
“Paper is one of the few products on earth that already has an environmentally sustainable, circular life cycle,” Rowzie says. “North American paper is made from an infinitely renewable natural resource – trees grown, harvested and regrown in sustainably managed forests. It’s manufactured using mostly renewable, carbon neutral bioenergy in a process that uses water, but in reality consumes very little of it. And paper products are recycled more than any other material. But many consumers believe paper is bad for the environment because their service providers are telling them so. Two Sides is working hard to change that.”
Two Sides challenges greenwashing companies and other organizations in a non-confrontational way, educating CEOs and other senior management with facts from credible, third-party sources that clearly demonstrate the unique sustainability characteristics of paper products and the solid and continually improving environmental record of the North American paper industry. Because North America’s leading corporations and other service providers have such an expansive reach, Two Sides anti-greenwashing efforts to date have had an enormous impact, with unsubstantiated “go paperless” environmental messages removed from literally billions of customer communications.
“But there’s much more work to do as companies continue to distort the paper industry’s great environmental record and threaten paper, print and mail volumes with opportunistic greenwashing claims,” Rowzie says. “This is why the Anti-Greenwashing Campaign continues to be a top priority for Two Sides.”
Across North and South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Two Sides has challenged more than 1,900 organizations that have made unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper and continues to pursue those whose use greenwashing claims to mask their cost-cutting efforts.
“We are grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of organizations that have changed or eliminated greenwashing claims from their messaging, and we are also thankful for the many industry stakeholders and members of the public who send Two Sides examples of greenwashing,” Rowzie concludes.
To learn more about Two Sides North America and its Anti-Greenwashing Campaign, please visit www.twosidesna.org.
About Two Sides
Two Sides is a global, member-funded non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the uniquely sustainable attributes of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides’ members span the entire print, paper and paper-based packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, packaging, inks and chemicals, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and mail operators. For more information, visit www.twosidesna.org.