Submitted by: The Two Sides Team November 13, 2018
At the annual meeting of Two Sides’ Country Managers in London on 5th November 2018, representatives from Europe, North America, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand determined to continue efforts to stop organisations making misleading, anti-print and paper messages in their customer communications.
Since its inception, Two Sides’ anti-greenwash campaign has investigated 921 organisations worldwide. Of these, over two-thirds were found to be using unsubstantiated claims regarding paper’s impact on the environment, usually in breach of local advertising regulations. After being challenged by Two Sides, 335 organisations removed or changed their messaging.
In a joint statement, Two Sides’ Country Managers stated:
“We are thrilled to be able to report the latest global anti-greenwash results. The Anti-Greenwash campaign is such an important initiative because without Two Sides’ intervention there would be no other body holding these organisations to account.
But despite the success of the campaign, as well as clear rules on unsubstantiated environmental claims, greenwash tactics are still commonplace. Every day, new claims are brought to the attention of Two Sides, from some of the world’s largest companies telling tens-of-millions of their customers that paper is bad for the environment.”
Common consumer misconceptions about print and paper are being reinforced by service providers as they increasingly encourage their customers to switch to electronic bills, statements and correspondence. The incentive to switch is often based on unfounded environmental claims such as ‘Go Green – Go Paperless’ and ‘Choose e-billing and help save a tree.’
Not only are these claims misleading, but the drive to digital is not without environmental impacts and also not welcomed by many consumers.
In a survey commissioned Two Sides, over 10,000 consumers around the globe were asked about their preferences for print. Key findings include:
- 89% believe they have the right to choose how they receive communications (printed or electronically) from financial organisations and service providers
- 77% believe they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill or statement
- 73% keep hard copies of important documents filed at home, as they believe this is the safest and most secure way of storing information
- 69% agree to go ‘paperless’ is not really ‘paperless’ because they regularly have to print out documents at home
- 62% agree incentives to switch to digital because it is ‘better for the environment’ are actually because the sender wants to save money
Two Sides’ Country Managers remark:
“Two Sides, of course, recognises the benefits of digital communication in today’s ever-online world, but we must not force change as a blanket policy on all consumers, particularly under the guise of misleading and unsubstantiated environmental claims.
Two Sides asks all services providers to take a fair and honest approach to their communications and ensure that consumers remain free to choose paper, without charge or difficulty.”
What to do if you find misleading claims
Two Sides continues to actively challenge major organisations found to be misleading consumers by using environmental claims about the use of paper. However, we need the help of our eagle-eyed supporters! Keep your eyes peeled for other examples of Greenwash and report them to us.
Please send any instances of greenwash to [email protected]
About Two Sides
Two Sides is a not-for-profit, global initiative promoting the unique sustainable and attractive attributes of print, paper and paper packaging. Two Sides’ members span the entire print, paper and packaging value chain including: forestry, pulp, paper, packaging, inks and chemicals, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators. Membership of Two Sides demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to the environment and continuing desire to improve practices.
For more information about the Anti-Greenwash campaign, or to learn more about Two Sides, please contact us:
Australia and New Zealand: Kellie Northwood, [email protected]
Austria: Patrick Mader, [email protected]
Brazil: Fabio Arruda Mortara, [email protected]
France: Jan Le Moux, jlm[email protected]
Germany: Anne-Katrin Kohlmorgen, [email protected]
Italy: Massimo Ramunni, [email protected]
Netherlands: Erik Timmermans, [email protected]
Nordics: Magnus Thorkildsen, [email protected]
North America: Phil Riebel, [email protected]
South Africa: Deon Joubert, [email protected]
UK: Jonathan Tame, [email protected]