Broadcast in January, Radio 4’s More Or Less programme tackled the issue of greenwashing, investigating the claims of toilet paper company Serious Tissues.
With increasing awareness of companies making misleading environmental claims, there are more and more instances of the media calling out greenwashing. The latest example of this positive trend is the BBC’s More Or Less programme on Radio 4, which investigated a recent marketing claim by Serious Tissues.
The company, which produces a range of tissue products, ran a radio ad that stated: “15% of global deforestation is from toilet rolls alone. But switch to Serious Tissues and they don’t cut down trees. In fact, Serious Tissues plant a tree for every roll sold.”
Following the ad campaign, a number of Radio 4 listeners wrote to More or Less, taking issue with the 15% figure and asking the team to investigate and find out whether that figure was true. On January 29, journalist Charlotte McDonald presented the results of their findings.
“First, we contacted the company whose ad it was, Serious Tissues, and they directed us to a 2019 report by the American environmental organisation, the Natural Resources Defence Council or NRDC,” said Charlotte on the programme. “The problem with the report was we couldn’t see a 15% figure that related to toilet paper.”
The team went further, interviewing Professor Mary Gagen, Chief Adviser on Forests to the World Wide Fund for Nature, who couldn’t find the figure either. Professor Gagen stated that she suspected the figure was for all products that are made from wood pulp, including paper packaging and graphic paper, as well as tissue.
“There is a number that is quite widely cited associated with the wood pulp industry,” she said. “Which is between 10% and around 14% of global deforestation can be attributed to the pulp and paper industry. So I wonder if that 15% attribution to toilet paper usage is possibly a misinterpretation of that global wood pulp figure.”