FSEA Releases Study on the Recycling of Fiber-Based Materials with Transfer Metallic Decoration

The Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) has announced the release of a new report detailing the results from a newly completed study on the recycling of fiber-based materials with transfer metallic decoration. The new study now available through FSEA has taken a further step to test transfer metallic decorated fiber-based materials and how the materials are sorted by Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) throughout the U.S. and North America. Through extensive testing at the Van Dyk Technology Center, the study demonstrates that fiber-based transfer metallic decorated materials are recyclable and are currently being sorted by Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to be included in the recycling stream.

Read more and request a copy of the new study at FSEA.com

 

From Plastic to Paper: The Eco-Conscious Evolution of North American Packaging Trends

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the packaging industry. First in the UK and Europe, and now US and Canadian brands are moving towards paper-based packaging solutions. This transition reflects a growing corporate commitment to environmental sustainability, increased regulations and penalties for using plastic, and a desire to meet consumer demand for packaging that is both sustainable and easier to recycle, knowing it is not going into landfills.

All of these motivators drive a growing movement to support a more circular economy, which is one based on the reuse and regeneration of materials or products, especially as a means of sustainably continuing production.

Environmental Consciousness Drives Change

One of the primary reasons behind the shift towards paper-based packaging is a heightened awareness of environmental issues, particularly the impact of plastic pollution on the planet. While plastic packaging is convenient and versatile, it poses significant environmental challenges. Plastic is made from non-renewable petroleum-based materials – it is non-biodegradable, contributes to litter and marine pollution, is difficult to recycle and is harmful to humans and wildlife.

Paper-based packaging offers several environmental benefits, making it an attractive alternative to plastic. Unlike plastic, paper is renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable, making it a more sustainable option from a lifecycle perspective. Additionally, advancements in paper packaging technology have led to the development of innovative products that offer the same functionality and protection as traditional plastic packaging, further driving the adoption of paper-based materials.

Consumer Preferences Lead the Way

Consumer preferences play a crucial role in shaping the packaging choices made by brands. Surveys have consistently shown that most consumers prefer paper-based packaging over plastic for its perceived environmental benefits. This shift in consumer sentiment has prompted brands to reevaluate their packaging strategies and prioritize materials that are perceived as more eco-friendly. Additionally, market trends indicate a significant increase in demand for paper-based packaging, driven by concerns about plastic pollution and a desire for more sustainable alternatives.

A survey commissioned by Two Sides North America revealed that 55% of US consumers would buy more from brands and retailers who remove plastic from their packaging, up from 49% in 2021. Half said they are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper packaging, up from 41% over the past two years, and 47% said they would consider avoiding a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging, up from 39% in 2021. In addition, disposal decision fatigue is real–consumers preferred paper/cardboard packaging for being home-compostable (59%) and easier to recycle (43%).

Corporate sustainability goals driven by consumer demand are a primary motivator in the shift from plastic to paper. Wayne Towle, sales manager at fiber-packaging supplier Planet Paper Box Group, recently told Packaging Digest, “All the major players in all the major CPG companies have some form of sustainability goals factored into their business model. It is becoming more of a necessity for companies to do that.”

Government Regulations Hasten Shift

Recent data from pulp and paper business intelligence company Fisher International cites several market factors driving the switch to paper packaging, including legislation in the U.S., Canada, and across the globe.

“Certain single-use plastics (e.g., drinking straws, coffee stirrers, plastic bottles, plates, cups, utensils, shopping bags) have been identified as leading contributors to plastic pollution and are the target of most legislation.”

Twenty-three states in the US have some form of plastic bag legislation, and several cities have banned plastic straws. In Canada, the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations (SUPPR) were introduced as a larger comprehensive plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Big Brands Make the Switch

Several brands based or prominent in North America have embraced paper-based packaging as part of their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. These include L’Oreal, Zappos, Pringles, Absolute, Apple, Nestle, Samsung, and Amazon. Although these are U.S.-based business giants, packaging innovation has often been initiated in Europe due to stricter penalties and regulations around plastic-based packaging. But North American roll-outs have picked up steam.

Iconic fast-food chain McDonald’s announced plans to phase in more sustainable, recycled, and recyclable alternatives to their current packaging, including paper-based materials. According to the company, which serves 69 million people worldwide each year, McDonald’s has set a goal of sourcing 100% of its primary guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources and expanding the reduction and recycling of guest packaging by the end of 2025.

An Amazon facility in Ohio uses machine learning to customize box sizes to eliminate plastic packaging fillers. The research was launched in Washington State’s Amazon innovation center, and upgrades will roll out in North America this year. Technology like this could skyrocket the use of paper and cardboard packaging across industries.

Paper Fits the Bill

In so many ways, paper has become the ideal packaging material, offering businesses, manufacturers and consumers a simplified experience that cuts cost and time and is naturally sustainable.

Consumer preference. Consumers prefer goods packaged in materials that are easy to recycle or safe to compost. They don’t want the inconvenience of stripping off labels or driving to a retail store to recycle plastic bags and clamshell containers.

Circular economy. Paper is a bedrock of a circular economy as it promotes the reuse and regeneration of packaging. Paper can be recycled five to seven times, on average, before fibers become unusable. Paper is biodegradable and compostable. In fact, clean cardboard adds valuable dry materials to the composting process.

Sustainable forestry. The US paper industry promotes sustainable forestry and depends on sustainable forest growth to provide a reliable wood fiber supply. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the paper industry encourages landowners to continue managing their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. In the United States, we grow more trees than we harvest, and US forests are a renewable natural resource and are not shrinking. Net forest area in the United States increased by approximately 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020 – an area equivalent to approximately 1,200 NFL football fields every day.

In Canada, all areas harvested on public land must be reforested through replanting or natural regeneration, and about 90% of Canada’s forests are on public land. Canada leads the world in third-party sustainable forest certification.

Energy consumption. According to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), purchased energy is the third highest operating cost for the paper and wood products industry, motivating the industry to increase energy efficiency and use less energy overall. In 2020, AF&PA member pulp and paper mills self-generated 58% of the electricity needed to power their mills. They surpassed their collective goal for energy efficiency by reducing purchased energy by more than 13% between 2005 and 2020. Among the sustainability goals outlined in AF&PA’s Better Practices, Better Planet 2030, one is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

Similar efforts are being made in Canada to become more energy efficient. Most of the energy used at Canadian pulp and paper mills is generated using renewable, carbon-neutral biomass. Since the early 1990s, the Canadian forest sector has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70%.

Choosing Paper

The shift towards paper-based packaging among US and Canadian brands reflects consumers, governments, and corporations’ broadening commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. By choosing paper, these brands are not only meeting consumer demand for more eco-friendly products but also contributing to the preservation of the planet for future generations.

Two Sides Global Campaign Reports Increasing Greenwashing as Organizations Focus on Sustainability

Two Sides has challenged over 2,650 organizations found to be communicating greenwashing messages to their customers. Over 1,180 organizations have, so far, removed misleading anti-paper statements.

PORTLAND, Ore. – April 25, 2024 – Economic pressures remain the driver for greenwashing, and many organizations that have relied on paper to communicate with their customers are increasingly transitioning consumers from traditional paper-based services to digital platforms to reduce costs. The switch to digital is often justified by misleading and unsubstantiated environmental marketing messages such as; “Go Green – Go Paperless” or “Choose e-billing and help save a tree,” but this is Greenwashing.

A Two Sides Greenwashing Study in 2022 revealed that 65% of US consumers who have seen greenwashing claims are influenced to switch from paper to electronic communications. Furthermore, data from the 2023 Two Sides Trend Tracker Survey showed that 81% of consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive bills and statements.

With increasing focus on corporate sustainability, other sectors – such as tissue and paper-based packaging – now experience greenwashing with the misleading and unsubstantiated marketing of products claiming to be more sustainable for many reasons, including new and alternative sources of fiber.

Two Sides North America Executive Director, Jules Van Sant says, “These greenwashing claims violate established environmental marketing regulations and are hugely damaging for an industry known for its strong and consistently progressive environmental record. A healthy market for forest products such as paper encourages the long-term growth of forests through sustainable forest management. Many of the organizations we challenge are surprised to learn that US forests have actually been growing by the equivalent of 1,200 football fields every day.”

Globally, Two Sides has engaged over 2,650 Organizations making misleading statements about paper. In North America, nearly 200 companies, including many Fortune 500 companies, have removed unsubstantiated claims about paper.

Two Sides estimates that, due to the vast reach of some of these organizations, unsubstantiated claims have a long-lasting damaging effect on consumer perceptions of paper and threaten a US industry that employs over 925,000 people and supports more than 2 million additional jobs throughout the supply chain.

The Anti-greenwash campaign continues to be a priority for Two Sides and urges companies not to use unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about going paperless in all of their communications.

“We are grateful for the openness, communication and cooperation when we present the facts around the use of paper, print, mail and paper-based packaging. But we have more work to do! As a result of our outreach, hundreds of organizations have changed or eliminated these misleading greenwashing claims from their messaging. Our industry stakeholders, Two Sides members, supporters and informed consumers help keep our work at the forefront. We are thankful for those who send us examples of greenwashing – keep them coming,” Van Sant concludes.

Please send any instances of greenwash to our Anti-Greenwashing Claim Submission Form.

For more information about our anti-greenwashing campaign, visit Anti-Greenwashing Campaign – Two Sides North America (twosidesna.org).

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. Its members span the entire value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, packaging, inks and chemicals, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes, and postal operators.

For more information about the anti-greenwash campaign or to learn more about Two Sides, please contact us at info@twosidesna.org.

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A Critical Balance: Virgin and Recycled Fibers Partners in Printing Paper Production

The balance of virgin and recycled fibers in paper and paper-based packaging production is a critical and ongoing consideration by consumers. While the pursuit of environmental friendliness–or the appearance of it–drives the push towards more recycled fibers, virgin fibers are essential in crafting high-quality, durable, and sustainable paper products.

Capitalizing on Complementary Strengths: Both virgin and recycled fibers bring unique strengths to the table. Recycled fibers contribute to the circular economy, reducing the need for fresh raw materials. However, each time paper is recycled, the fibers get shorter and weaker, eventually degrading and unable to bond into new paper. On the other hand, virgin fibers offer essential qualities like strength, durability and brightness. The longevity and performance of the final paper or package are ensured by continually introducing new fiber into the system.

Reducing Environmental Impact: Determining a proper mix of virgin and recycled fibers is a nuanced process. While some argue for exclusively recycled content to “save trees,” the demand for wood fiber is also a driving force in maintaining healthy forest ecosystems, as sustainably managed forests produce two times the tree volumes vs what is harvested. Strong market demand for sustainably sourced paper products provides a powerful financial incentive for landowners to continue to manage their land responsibly and keep it forested instead of converting or selling it for non-forest uses.

Well-managed forests are, by their nature, sustainable, and both virgin and recycled paper offer alternatives to electronic forms of communication that have their own environmental impact, such as e-waste and energy use. A balanced approach acknowledges the need for both sustainable forest management alongside recycling efforts.

Virgin vs Recyled Fibers in Print Paper

Meeting Business Needs: Choosing whether to use recycled or virgin paper typically comes down to the type of use. Most recycled paper contains a proportion of virgin fiber to ensure the quality of the end product. Breaking and separating fibers during recycling impacts the paper’s durability and surface area, and recycled paper products can only be “downcycled,” which means a corrugated box cannot be made into bright white paper, but higher quality paper can be made into recycled packaging grades. Many companies rely on using strong, bright, clean papers from virgin fibers to convey important messaging, provide strength, or be more hygienic. The wrong mix of recycled and virgin fibers will affect the ability to run smoothly through a press or printer and take up ink and other coatings. Ink saturation, registration and brightness may all be affected, creating a different type of end product depending upon the intended use.

Virgin vs Recyled Fibers in Print Paper

Reducing Environmental Footprint through Innovation: Paper is the most reliably recycled material, recovering nearly 68% of all the paper used in the U.S. in 2022 year and almost 94% of all cardboard.

The print and paper industry has contributed nearly $7 billion in recycling infrastructure, with approximately 80% of U.S. paper and packaging mills using some recovered paper fibers in their products. Technological advancements in the paper industry have played a crucial role in maximizing the potential of both virgin and recycled fibers. Innovations in processing techniques ensure the efficient utilization of recycled fibers and other materials without compromising the quality of the final product. These advancements contribute to a more sustainable and circular approach to paper production.

Increasing Consumer Awareness: Educating consumers about the benefits of a balanced mix of virgin and recycled fibers and the role the paper industry plays in environmental stewardship is essential. Two Sides North America researches and publishes an important collection of myths and facts to help consumers and businesses stay informed. Understanding that responsible paper production involves a thoughtful combination of these fibers can empower consumers to make environmentally conscious choices that truly support sustainable practices within the industry.

The union of virgin and recycled fibers in paper and paper-based packaging production is not just a compromise; it’s a strategic alliance embodying the principles of sustainability, quality, and versatility. By striking the right balance, the paper industry can contribute significantly to a circular economy while meeting the diverse needs of consumers and businesses alike.

Join the Movement: Tell Your Sustainability Story with Two Sides North America

In an era where digital solutions are seen as inherently sustainable, the print, paper and paper-based packaging industries play a crucial role in shaping environmentally friendly practices. Two Sides North America is at the forefront of this movement and plays a unique role as an industry advocate while directly taking on other corporations and industries that use greenwashing to spread misinformation about the environmental impact of paper products. 

Two Sides North America (TSNA) is part of the non-profit Two Sides Global network that includes more than 600 members in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Our membership includes companies and industry-allied organizations, both large and small, from across the entire value chain. 

TSNA research, outreach, and ongoing work are 100% funded by membership dues. Members of TSNA gain access to a wealth of resources while providing valuable tools and research to help keep the industry informed and able to address misguided environmental concerns about print and paper use in North America. 

As our work continues to expand, so too does our need to engage our print, mail, paper, and paper-based packaging communities and grow our membership in North America. Together – our voices continue to be heard!

Benefits to Paper and Packaging-based Businesses

The advantages of TSNA membership are substantial. Beyond the educational resources, being part of TSNA can positively impact a company’s brand image and foster consumer trust when making purchasing decisions. Two Sides provides a platform for companies to showcase their commitment to sustainable practices, setting them apart in an increasingly eco-conscious market. Depending on membership type, benefits include:

Enhanced credibility. By joining with other members to speak with one voice about the sustainability of the entire graphic communications and paper-based packaging Industry, your organization can communicate with customers and other stakeholders using verifiable, consistent messaging that enhances credibility and confidence in your business.

Increased visibility. Members increase the visibility of their organization’s sustainability efforts to our growing worldwide network by connecting with us on social media platforms.

A forum to challenge misleading anti-paper and print claims. Two Sides engages directly with companies that use misleading and unfounded environmental messaging about paper and print.  Our goal is to combat Greenwashing, educate the marketplace about the sustainable truths around the use of print and paper, correct their outbound marketing speak, and redirect consumer misconceptions toward the facts. 

A forum for discussion. Membership provides opportunities for valuable discussion and interaction with industry peers, as well as a communication platform to help members more effectively engage the media, suppliers, NGOs, and others on sustainability issues.

Access to Two Sides materials. A variety of materials, such as customizable fact sheets, infographics, and presentations, serve as valuable resources to help members communicate with customers, employees, and other stakeholders about our industry’s sustainability. This Greenwashing fact sheet is one of the most useful and popular materials we provide.

Current research. TSNA conducts annual third-party surveys of consumer perceptions about paper and paper-based packaging. Providing insights into perceptions and facts about the sustainability of paper helps members advocate for the industry and for their products and services.

Strength in numbers. Membership provides the opportunity to participate in industry-wide efforts to develop practical, sustainable solutions in consultation with peers, government, NGOs, and others. 

News and information. Members have 24/7 access to news and information on emerging sustainability issues and challenges facing our industry.

Logo use. Membership privileges include authorization to use the Two Sides logo and other intellectual property, demonstrating your business’s sustainability leadership, proactive approach to environmental responsibility, and commitment to implementing the Two Sides Principles.

Industry-wide Impact

TSNA’s initiatives extend beyond individual companies, influencing the entire paper and packaging industry. By promoting responsible sourcing of paper in North America, TSNA contributes to a positive environmental impact, reducing the industry’s ecological footprint. The collective effort of TSNA members leads to a more sustainable industry, aligning with global goals for a greener future. It also protects the industry from being harmed by misleading and false claims, which can result in revenue and job loss.

Anti-Greenwashing is the Heart of Two Sides North America’s Work

Greenwashing, the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product, is a prevalent issue. TSNA’s anti-greenwashing campaign has emerged as a critical force in eliminating billions of instances of paper-related greenwashing in the U.S. The campaign debunking false claims fosters transparency and ensures that consumers can make informed choices. 

The Two Sides global anti-greenwashing campaign has persuaded more than 1,075 companies, government agencies, and other organizations to remove unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper products. During 2023 alone, 30 companies representing approximately 200 million customers removed greenwashing messages such as “Go green, Go paperless” and  “Go paperless to help protect the environment” from their marketing communications.

Two Sides North America’s recent research found that 65% of consumers who’ve seen anti-paper greenwashing are influenced to go paperless. Two Sides estimates that efforts have preserved more than $300 million in annual revenue for the paper, printing, and mailing sector over the last decade.

Print, paper, and paper-based packaging have a great environmental story, and TSNA helps our members tell it. We tackle the relevant environmental and social issues head-on with authoritative, fact-based information that provides compelling proof of our industry’s sustainability and paper’s contributions to a circular economy. 

As we navigate an era where sustainability is non-negotiable, TSNA stands as a beacon, guiding companies toward practices that benefit both their business and the planet.

Download our latest membership Brochure

Click here to become a member today!

Paper Greetings are America’s Calling Card

In the age of digital dominance, a surprising and heartwarming trend defies the wave—millennials’ and Gen Z’s preference for physical greeting cards. Even though these generations are digital natives, recent studies and surveys reveal that many prefer the tangible charm and personalization of paper greeting cards over their e-counterparts.

According to a recent poll from online card and gift giant Shutterfly1, more than half (54%) of Americans say they still mail their greeting cards versus sending via digital and social platforms.

The new survey of 2,000 U.S. adults split evenly by generation revealed that two out of three prefer to receive physical cards as opposed to digital ones, including younger respondents who are millennials (62%) or are part of Gen Z (59%). Personalization was a big deal to survey respondents, preferring to include family, vacation, or pet photos with cards.

So, what exactly is driving this preference?

One of the key factors contributing to the sustained popularity of paper greeting cards is the emotional resonance they carry. Recent industry research has shown that about 80% of people keep cards that represent a life or relationship milestone. And over the years–especially since the pandemic–young people have taken the reins on greeting card messaging, launching independent lines that have found their way into retailers large and small. Many prefer cards that speak to their specific problems and joyful moments that haven’t been largely seen in traditional greeting cards. 

Retail insights on consumer habits2 support the idea that there is demand for traditional greeting cards, and demand for personalization, digital integration, and representation. To that end, Hallmark Video Greetings launched in early 2022. Card buyers can scan a QR code in the physical card, and once they’re online, they can add videos or photos and invite others to join via email or text. Once everyone’s content is submitted, Hallmark stitches it together into one video, which the recipient can view by scanning the QR code. The big two–Hallmark and American Greetings–are also meeting the demand for representation by diversifying their offerings to reflect North America’s modern demographics.

A year into the pandemic, the industry found millennials and Gen Zs not only wanting to connect with people they couldn’t see in person but also experiencing screen fatigue and activity looking for ways to describe their unique experiences in the world. And this generation is more likely to send a card just because it fits the recipient, letting go of pressure around card-centered holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Like previous generations without digital options, people today appreciate the effort and intentionality required to select, customize, and send a paper card. It becomes a tangible representation of the relationship between the sender and the recipient, making the experience more meaningful and enduring.

Small businesses use cards to build relationships

Small businesses also continue to send an enormous number of holiday cards each year. A 2022 report from the Greeting Card Association3 shows that one-third of companies send a holiday greeting, and 87% of them are physical, not e-cards. This adds up to an estimated 150 million greeting cards mailed by small businesses during the winter holiday season, and those rates are likely to remain constant or slightly grow. 

The vast majority of small businesses that send physical holiday cards send them to current customers to show gratitude and build relationships. Given that direct mail is much more likely to get a meaningful response than email or other digital outreach, building relationships with greeting cards during the holidays is a sound business decision.

The preference for paper greeting cards among consumers and businesses is a testament to the timeless appeal of tangible expressions. In a fast-paced digital world, the intentional act of sending and receiving physical cards has become a powerful and cherished tradition.

 

Shutterfly Report, Nov. 2023 https://nypost.com/2023/11/09/lifestyle/millennials-gen-z-still-prefer-physical-greeting-cards-over-digital-ones/

Canadian Grocer Report, Feb. 2023 https://canadiangrocer.com/digital-driving-consumer-habits-there-still-value-traditional-greeting-cards

Small Business Use of Greeting Cards, Greeting Card Association 2022 White Paper https://omsgca.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Lind_WhitePaper-GreetingCards-2022-v1d-1.pdf

Cardboard Comes Out On Top

Consumer Preference and Industry Efforts Pave the Way for Corrugated Boxes

As consumers increasingly voice their environmental concerns, industries worldwide are actively seeking sustainable alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint. Not surprisingly, corrugated cardboard packaging has emerged as an environmentally sustainable choice, boasting benefits that other packaging materials simply can’t match. Reports and surveys, including a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) recently published by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) and the 2023 US Trend Tracker Survey commissioned by Two Sides North America, shed light on the environmental impact of cardboard packaging and illustrate why it is fast becoming the preferred choice of brands and consumers around the globe.

Published in October 2023, the 2020 Life Cycle Assessment of U.S. Average Corrugated Product found that the corrugated packaging industry has achieved substantial reductions in the environmental impacts of a typical corrugated cardboard box. 

Specifically, the LCA shows a 50% per unit reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2006 and 2020, tackling the most urgent and predominant causes of climate change. Meaningful reductions were also achieved in ozone depletion (13%), energy usage (13%), water usage (18%), acid rain (41%), smog (44%), respiratory effects (54%), and eutrophication, which leads to algae blooms and dead zones in bodies of water (30%).

The industry achieved this progress through energy improvements, the creation of a strong recycling infrastructure, sustainably managed forests, and a commitment to continuous environmental improvement. The industry continues to shift to cleaner burning fuel, has increased its participation in a greener U.S. electric grid, and made investments in energy efficiency. 

cardboard boxes

Raw Materials

Cardboard packaging is a standout choice in terms of raw material sustainability. Using wood fiber from purpose-grown, sustainably managed forests ensures that the extraction process is both responsible and renewable. The LCA reveals that sustainable forestry practices, when paired with efficient management, contribute to the overall favorable environmental profile of cardboard packaging.

The fresh wood fiber used to manufacture cardboard, which is continually renewed in sustainably managed forests, aids in the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while recycling old corrugated cardboard avoids carbon dioxide and methane emissions from landfills. This combination of fresh and recycled fibers in cardboard production maximizes fiber reuse and enables circularity. 

Manufacturing Processes

Significant advances in manufacturing technology and processes have increased efficiency and decreased energy consumption in cardboard production, leading to reduced environmental impacts. In addition, the industry’s proactive approach to water recycling and conservation, along with the increased use of renewable energy, further reduces cardboard’s environmental footprint. 

Transportation and Distribution

Cardboard’s lightweight nature contributes to lower transportation costs and emissions compared to heavier packaging materials. Lighter weights translate into lower fuel consumption during transportation, thereby decreasing the overall carbon footprint. This is particularly crucial in a globalized economy where goods are transported over long distances.

End-of-Life Considerations

Cardboard’s recyclability is a critical factor in its circular life cycle, and the corrugated industry has enabled increasingly higher recycling rates with billions of dollars in voluntary infrastructure investment over the past 30 years.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cardboard is the most recycled packaging material in the United States. The American Forest and Paper Association reports that the recycling rate for cardboard boxes was more than 93% in 2022.  

Consumer Trends and Attitudes: Insights from the 2023 US Trend Tracker Survey

In January 2023, Two Sides North America commissioned its biennial Trend Tracker Survey to better understand changing consumer preferences, perceptions and attitudes toward print, paper and paper-based packaging. The survey, conducted by international research firm Toluna,  showed a growing awareness among U.S. consumers about the environmental impacts of packaging materials and a preference for sustainable packaging. 

The survey findings reveal that consumers prefer products with paper or cardboard packaging for various reasons, including its ease of recycling and home composting. Half of consumers believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment than other types of packaging, including plastic, glass and metal. In addition to expressing an overall preference for paper-based packaging, 56% of consumers prefer that items ordered online be delivered in paper packaging, up from 52% in 2021. 50% say they are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper-based packaging, up from 41%. 47% would avoid shopping with a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce its use of non-recyclable packaging, up from 39%.

Environmental Misconceptions

Despite the expanding body of scientific evidence supporting the inherent sustainability of paper-based packaging and consumers’ efforts to make sustainable choices, many misconceptions about cardboard and its effects on the environment remain. You can help set the record straight by arming yourself with the facts. To learn more, visit www.twosidesna.org/mythsandfacts.

Two Sides North America Announces Retirement of President Kathi Rowzie

Kathi Rowzie

PORTLAND, Ore. – January 9, 2024 – Two Sides North America (TSNA) today announced that Kathi Rowzie will retire as its president effective February 1. Over the past four years, Rowzie has led the non-profit membership organization chartered to eliminate unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about print, paper and paper-based packaging and to promote the paper industry’s continuously improving sustainability performance. 

Under Rowzie’s leadership, TSNA has persuaded dozens of major corporations, government agencies and other organizations to remove unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper from their customer communications, resulting in the elimination of billions of instances of anti-paper greenwashing. Since 2020, TSNA has also increased its LinkedIn followers by 125%; initiated and conducted two Trend Tracker research studies which showed incremental improvement in consumer attitudes toward paper products and the environment; significantly increased engagement with the media on paper-related sustainability issues; introduced the “3 Minutes with Two Sides” podcast; redesigned TSNA educational materials to make them more user friendly; and more. 

“On behalf of TSNA’s members and supporters, we thank Kathi for her leadership and unyielding determination in busting common environmental myths about print and paper products and promoting the paper industry’s ever-improving environmental record,” said TSNA Executive Director Jules Van Sant. “Her efforts to eliminate anti-paper greenwashing claims and to educate businesses and consumers about the environmental benefits of paper products have laid the groundwork to continue our efforts through advocacy and education.”

“It has been my great privilege to serve as Two Sides North America president,” Rowzie said. “I am especially grateful to our members whose support has made it possible for Two Sides to consistently deliver on our commitments to eliminate unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about print, paper and paper-based packaging and to tell the great sustainability story of the paper industry and its products. I look forward to seeing Executive Director Jules Van Sant and Director of Operations Jill Crossley take Two Sides North America to new levels of success in 2024 and beyond.”

Rowzie will continue to work with paper industry clients and their customers, providing sustainability strategy and communications services through her consulting practice, Rowzie Group Ltd.

 


Media Contacts:

Jules Van Sant, Executive Director
Jill Crossley, Director of Operations
Two Sides North America
P:  971-288-6734
E:  info@twosidesna.org

About Two Sides North America

Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is part of the non-profit Two Sides global network, which includes more than 600 member companies across North America, South America, Latin America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Our mission is to dispel common environmental misconceptions and to inspire and inform businesses and consumers with engaging, factual information about the inherent environmental sustainability and enduring value of print, paper and paper-based packaging.

Two Sides North America Celebrates Record-Breaking Year

As we look toward the New Year, Two Sides North America has a lot to celebrate! With the help of our members and supporters who submitted greenwashing claims from their service providers, we’ve broken our all-time annual record with 30 additional wins in our Anti-greenwashing Campaign in 2023!

These wins collectively represent more than 200 million North American consumers who are no longer seeing unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper from their financial institutions, utilities, insurance companies, government agencies and other organizations.

But there’s more work to do!  As companies face inflationary pressures, they’re looking for ways to cut costs. In many cases, this means urging their customers to go paperless and using misleading environmental claims about paper to get them to make the switch. And we know this tactic works!

Two Sides North America research showed that 65% of U.S. consumers who’ve seen greenwashing claims are influenced to switch from paper to electronic communications.

You can help the Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign achieve even greater success in 2024!

If you see greenwashing claims like “go green, go paperless” or “going paperless saves trees” from companies you do business with, or if you spot media stories promoting alternative types of packaging as environmentally superior to paper, send a pdf or jpg snip of the claims to the Two Sides North America Anti-Greenwashing Campaign at info@twosidesna.org.

If your company is not a member of Two Sides, you can support our efforts by joining today! Membership starts at just $250.  Click here for more information or give us a call at 971-288-6734.

Best Wishes for a Happy & Prosperous New Year from your Two Sides North America Team!

Unmasking Greenwashing: The Consequences and the Cure

In our increasingly environmentally conscious world, it’s common for companies to tout their green initiatives and environmentally friendly practices, and that’s just good business.  But all too often, companies claim benefits –  like the environmental superiority of “recyclable plastic” packaging or “going green” by switching from paper to electronic communications — as a way to cloak poor environmental performance or mask cost-cutting efforts. With no sound scientific evidence to back them up, these types of claims are textbook greenwashing.  

Some of the consequences of greenwashing are obvious.  Clearly, unsubstantiated environmental claims mislead consumers, often causing them to take actions they would not otherwise consider. As reported previously by Two Sides North America (TSNA), psychological research has shown that when people see and hear unsubstantiated claims over and over again, they start to believe them as true, and ultimately incorporate them into their decision making. A 2022 TSNA study confirmed this finding. The study showed that among Americans who had repeatedly seen “go green, go paperless” and similar claims from their banks, utility companies and other services providers, 65% were influenced to switch from paper to electronic bills and statements.

Greenwashing claims can also cause reputational harm, not only damaging the credibility of companies that make such claims, but also casting doubt over the valid claims of companies that are contributing to real environmental progress.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guides” provide very specific guidance related to environmental claims, stating that “claims must be truthful, not misleading and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.” Unfortunately, this guidance is often ignored.

Hidden Consequences

One of the least discussed but most damaging consequences of paper-related greenwashing is economic in nature. When respected companies, media and producers of competing materials make unsubstantiated environmental claims, they negatively influence consumers’ perceptions of paper products and put at risk the livelihoods of workers across the print, paper, paper-based packaging and mail sector.  A recent study by the Envelope Manufacturers Association Foundation reported that this sector accounts for 7.9 million workers who make up 5% of the U.S. workforce and contribute nearly $2 trillion to the U.S. economy.  From papermakers, printers and converting equipment operators to graphic designers, paper industry suppliers and mail management and distribution employees, greenwashing creates economic vulnerabilities for many.  

The Greenwashing Cure: Accountability

The way to eliminate paper-related greenwashing by corporations, media and producers of competing materials is to hold them accountable for their bogus claims.  Two Sides North America is the only industry organization doing just that.

Two Sides directly challenges greenwashing companies to remove unsubstantiated environmental claims 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. So far this year, TSNA has persuaded 24 more companies and two state/provincial government agencies to remove unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper, which translates to roughly 239 million consumers who are no longer seeing anti-paper greenwashing claims from these service providers.  

Two Sides also defends the sustainability of paper and paper-based packaging in the media, most recently in our letters to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and Office Products International (OPI) News. 

“Paper is one of the few products on earth that already has an environmentally sustainable, circular life cycle,” says TSNA President Kathi Rowzie. “North American paper is made from an infinitely renewable natural resource – trees that are purpose-grown, harvested and regrown in sustainably managed forests. It’s manufactured using mostly renewable, carbon neutral bioenergy in a process that uses a lot of water, but actually consumes very little of it. And paper products are recycled more than any other material in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. But many consumers believe paper is bad for the environment because corporations, the media and other organizations they trust are telling them so. The Two Sides Anti-greenwashing Campaign is working hard to change that.”

You Can Help!

If you see greenwashing claims like “go green, go paperless” from companies you do business with, or media stories promoting alternative types of packaging as environmentally superior to paper, send a pdf or jpg snip of the claims or forward the offending email to the Two Sides North America Anti-Greenwashing Campaign at info@twosidesna.org.

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