An article taken from the latest edition of The Page. Written by Sam Upton
Two of the largest brands in banking and telecoms have changed their communications messages following discussions with Two Sides about misleading environmental claims.
HSBC and TalkTalk have joined other global organisations such as Sky, Barclays, First Direct, MBNA, O2, Nationwide and the RAC, who have all been successfully engaged by Two Sides, resulting in the removal of claims in their communications about the environmental benefits of switching the type of media their customers receive their statements on.
These latest discussions are part of an ongoing Two Sides global campaign to eradicate greenwashing through misleading messages such as ‘Choose e-billing and save a tree’ and ‘Go green – go paperless’ that attempt to encourage customers to switch from paper to digital bills and statements.
“There is a time and a place for both print and digital communications,” said Iain Wood, Head of Public Affairs at TalkTalk. “Any future messaging will focus on the cost savings available with paperless billing.”
Meanwhile, Brendan McNamara, Head of NGO Engagement at HSBC stated: “For all customer-facing copy, it is important to avoid making any unsubstantiated claims regarding switching from paper to electronic formats.”
This represents a huge success for Two Sides and a continuing reminder for the print industry that greenwashing is a major issue and should be challenged whenever it’s spotted.
According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), marketing claims must be clear, truthful, accurate and not misleading, and marketers must ensure that claims based on a part of the advertised product’s life cycle do not mislead consumers about the product’s total environmental impact.
To date, 770 of the world’s leading companies have been researched and checked by Two Sides as part of a global campaign, with 532 discovered to be using greenwash statements in their communications. Of those, 310 have removed their misleading statements as a direct result of being challenged by Two Sides.
But while this is clearly something to be celebrated, our work is far from over and we will continue to tackle greenwash statements whenever we see them. For the future of our industry, engaging companies and stopping these false anti-print statements is crucial.
This is where you can help: if you spot any misleading claims on any communications from companies or organisations then please let us know and we will investigate. With your help we can help people understand the true value of paper and eradicate greenwashing for good.
— To find out more about the Two Sides Anti-greenwashing campaign, go to www.twosides.info/anti-greenwash
— To let us know of any examples of greenwashing, email us at [email protected]. Please include evidence such as a screengrab or a scan of the paper statement.
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