A paper industry-led campaign has accused Google of greenwashing and federal trade violations, and urged it to reconsider a campaign urging businesses to go paperless.
January 9 2013
A paper industry-led campaign has accused Google of greenwashing and
federal trade violations, and urged it to reconsider a campaign urging
businesses to go paperless.
Two Sides sent an open letter to Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt warning that by promoting its Go Paperless in 2013 campaign, Google is trying to promote its services as environmentally preferable to print.
Google launched the Go Paperless campaign
at the start of the year in coordination with Fujitsu, which makes the
ScanSnap scanner, and the companies behind online services HelloFax,
HelloSign, Manilla, Expensify and Xero.
But Two Sides whose member companies hail from forestry, pulp,
paper, printing and related industries in over 12 countries said
Google is making spurious and unattributed environmental claims, and
said there is significant evidence that Googles own activities create a
significant and increasing environmental risk.
According to the letter, such Greenwash marketing is not only
damaging to corporate reputations but also increasingly, we consider, in
flagrant disregard of advertising standards such as those of the U.S
Federal Trade Commission and DEFRA (UK).
Two Sides pointed out that Google uses 2.3 million MWh of electricity
a year, and that e-waste is now the fastest growing component of the
municipal solid waste stream. The group also said studies have found
that documents can be more environmental friendly on paper than on
screen, if they are read more than once or by several people although
its citation links to a four-page report prepared for an undergraduate
physics course, not a paper in a peer-reviewed journal.
Two Sides also says that in the US more trees are grown than
harvested, and the volume of trees on US forestland has increased 49
percent over the past 50 years. Biomass accounts for 65 percent of
energy used to make pulp and paper in the US, and 54 percent in Europe,
the group says.
The letter does not, however, address whether the paper industry
poses a threat to rainforests and the endangered animals that live
there. Environmental groups have been targeting paper companies and
customers such as HarperCollins – that the non-profits see as linked to rainforest destruction.
This is not the first time that Two Sides has taken arms against an anti-paper campaign. Last July the group said it convinced UK companies British Telecom, Barclaycard, Vodafone and EON Energy,
among others, to withdraw their environmental claims about print and
paper. Two Sides said that more than 80 percent of the companies
approached agreed to change or kill their messaging about the
environmental costs of printing and paper.
And before that, Toshiba America Business Solutions announced it would cancel its National No-Print Day campaign
in response to protests from the commercial paper and print industries.
Michael Makin, president and CEO of the Printing Industries of America,
said Toshiba had assured him that it was taking the campaign back to
the drawing board.