Two Sides North America Announces the Election of New Board Members

CHICAGO – November, 17, 2021 – The Two Sides North America (TSNA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the election of four new Board members to serve two-year terms beginning January 1, 2022:

Vanecia Carr, Domtar Corporation

Edward Jansen, Canon Solutions America, Inc.

Jim Montague, Sylvamo Corporation

Lindsay Murphy, American Forest and Paper Association

“We are pleased to have these four outstanding professionals join the Two Sides Board,” said TSNA Board Chairman Jeffrey Hester of International Paper. “Their extensive industry experience and leadership combined with their passion for sustainability will be invaluable as we take Two Sides’ efforts to the next level.

“As their second Board terms end, we also wish to express our sincere thanks to John Milazo of Domtar and Mark Pitts of the American Forest and Paper Association for their many contributions and leadership to the TSNA Board and to Two Sides continuing success,” Hester added. According to TSNA’s bylaws, Directors may serve only two consecutive two-year terms.

In other business, The TSNA Board elected William Rojack, MIDLAND, to succeed Hester as Board Chairman effective January 1.

“Two Sides has accomplished a great deal in its first 10 years, but there is much more to do as the print, paper and paper-based packaging industry continues to confront unsubstantiated claims about the sustainability of our industry and our products,” Rojack says. “I look forward to leading TSNA’s talented Board as we look for new ways to share our industry’s great sustainability story and as we directly respond to misleading environmental claims in ways that individual companies and other organizations cannot.”

For more information about Two Sides, please visit www.twosidesna.org

Media Contact:  Kathi Rowzie, 937-999-7729, info@twosidesna.org

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

 

 

 

More Than 810 Companies Have Removed Misleading Anti-Paper Statements in Response to Two Sides Global Anti-Greenwash Campaign

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Since 2010, the Two Sides campaign has successfully influenced the change or removal of misleading environmental claims by more than 810 organizations globally, 149 of them in the United States and Canada, including many of the world’s largest corporations.

 

CHICAGO – October 5, 2021 – As economic pressures around the globe continue to mount, banks, telecom providers, utility companies and even governmental organizations are increasingly focused on switching their customers from paper to digital services to cut costs. All too often, their customer communications attempt to mask these cost-saving efforts, justifying the switch with unsubstantiated environmental marketing appeals such as “Go Green – Go Paperless” and “Choose e-billing and save a tree.”

“Not only do these greenwashing claims breach established environmental marketing standards like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Green Guides and the ISO 14021 standard, they also are extremely damaging to an industry that has a solid and continually improving environmental record,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “Far from ‘saving trees,’ strong market demand for sustainably sourced paper encourages responsible forest management and supports the long-term health of forest resources. Many of the organizations we engage are surprised to learn that over the last 30 years, U.S. forests have expanded by some 18 million acres, while net forest area in Canada has remained the same at around 857 million acres during the same period.1

Two Sides has engaged nearly 1,700 organizations around the globe – in North and South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand – urging them to remove misleading environmental claims about paper from their customer communications. To date, more than 810 of them have complied, 149 of them in the United States and Canada, bringing the North American success rate to 68%.

“We know that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact their choices have on the environment, and that environmental claims made by companies they trust can influence their decision making,” says Rowzie. “All too often, these claims are not based in fact.  Because these organizations have such an expansive reach, their greenwashing claims have a damaging effect on consumer perceptions of paper – perceptions that threaten the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the U.S. and Canadian printing, paper and mail sector.”

The damage caused by misleading claims is why the Anti-greenwash Campaign continues to be a priority for Two Sides, and why the organization continues to urge companies to reject the use of unsubstantiated environmental claims to promote paperless communications to their customers.

“We are grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of organizations that have changed or eliminated greenwashing claims from their messaging, and we are also thankful for the many industry stakeholders and members of the public who send Two Sides examples of greenwashing,” Rowzie says.

For more information about the Two Sides Anti-greenwash Campaign or to submit examples of greenwashing claims in the United States and Canada, email Two Sides North America at info@twosidesna.org

1UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2020

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Side North America (www.twosidesna.org) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the unique sustainable attributes of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about the paper industry and its products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

 

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America

937-999-7729

The Printing Industry of the Carolinas Joins Two Sides North America

 

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CHICAGO – August 6, 2021 – Two Sides North America is pleased to welcome The Printing Industry of  the Carolinas, Inc. (PICA), as our newest member. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, PICA is the regional graphics trade association serving the commercial printing, digital, wide format, mailing and packaging industries in North and South Carolina. The association provides educational programs, networking opportunities, buying power programs and conferences geared toward the printing industry.

“Printers play a vital role in helping to educate print buyers and other decision makers about the sustainability, effectiveness and relevance of print, paper and paper-based packaging in today’s omni-channel world,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “Two Sides is pleased to add PICA to our growing list of industry association members, and we invite their members to join us as well.”

PICA has long supported efforts to bring sustainable practices to the print market. It endorses the Regional Affiliate Certification Group (RACG), which provides cost-effective ways for its members to obtain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification. PICA also has supported the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) over the years.

“PICA and our members understand the sustainability, value and effectiveness that print brings to society, and we support Two Sides in its efforts to help promote these attributes of our industry,” says PICA President Jeff Stoudt. “PICA is embarking on a print awareness campaign to dispel the myths that print’s demise is imminent and to promote the positive value that only print can deliver. Two Sides is a valuable partner in our research and dissemination of information that supports our mission.”

By joining Two Sides, PICA has access to a large library of co-brandable communications tools, consumer research, industry-leading information resources, sustainability expertise and member networking opportunities.

Two Sides membership starts at just $250 a year and offers lots of great benefits.  For information on how to join, please visit https://twosidesna.org/become-a-member/.

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Sides North America is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. Our members include companies and allied industry organizations from across the graphic communications and paper-based packaging value chain. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America, Inc.

P:  937-999-7729

E:  info@twosidesna.org

 

Paper or Digital Communication: New Two Sides Survey Shows U.S. Consumers Overwhelmingly Want the Right to Choose

CHICAGO – July 20, 2021 –  In an attempt to reduce costs, many banks, utilities, telecoms and other service providers are switching consumers from paper to electronic bills and statements, often without their consent, and some are now charging fees to receive paper statements. Others are urging their customers to switch from paper to digital communication because “it’s better for the environment.” But a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna found that consumers want the freedom to choose how they receive important communications from the companies they do business with, and they are wise to cost cutting efforts disguised as concern for the environment.

The Right to Choose

The Two Sides survey showed that 78% of U.S. consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive important communications from their service providers, on paper or electronically, and 67% believe they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill or statement.

While using the internet can be a quick and convenient way to transact business, companies that default customers to electronic communication put at risk many Americans who do not have broadband access or have difficulty using the internet. Particularly at risk are people in rural areas, older people and those living with handicaps or on low incomes. According to a 2021 study by BroadbandNow, some 42 million Americans do not have broadband internet access.

Companies that force consumers to go paperless also face risks of their own. More than four in 10 consumers (41%) said they would consider switching to an alternate provider if their current one forced them to go paperless.

Digital Communication is Not Always Preferred

The survey showed that 64% of consumers are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged. Those over age 65 are most concerned (70%), but more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds (52%) have the same worry.

While internet use is practical and convenient for many, electronic communication also comes with undeniable challenges, including issues associated with overuse. The survey revealed that American consumers believe that “switching off” is more important than ever, with more than half (52%) saying they spend too much time on digital devices. The same percentage is concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, causing issues such as eye strain, headaches and sleep deprivation.

It’s also important to note that switching from paper to electronic delivery of bills and statements is not really “paperless,” since 64% of consumers say they regularly print out copies of such documents. 53% find paper bills and statements better than electronic bills and statements for recordkeeping.

Which is Better, Print on Paper or Digital Communication?

“The simple answer is that both have important uses and benefits that consumers value,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “The question should not be which one is better, but which is best suited for each individual’s needs. It’s vitally important that all consumers have the right to choose how they receive important communications from their service providers – free of charge – to assure that those who are unwilling or unable to access the internet are not disadvantaged.”

The Facts About Greenwashing

It has become commonplace for companies to encourage their customers to switch from paper to electronic bills and statements with claims that going paperless is “green” or “helps the environment.” These types of broad, unsubstantiated environmental claims, known as greenwashing, are not only misleading, but also are unacceptable under established environmental marketing standards such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14021 standard.

“Statements like ‘Go Green, Go Paperless’ are not backed by sound science and fail to recognize the vast and growing negative environmental impacts of electronic communication,” Rowzie says. “These misleading claims may also damage consumers’ perceptions of paper and put at risk the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the U.S. print, paper and mail sector.”

However, not all U.S. consumers are fooled by corporate greenwashing claims, and the use of such claims may distract from a company’s legitimate environmental initiatives and damage their corporate reputations. The survey showed that nearly six in 10 (57%) consumers said that when a service provider wants to switch them from paper to electronic communication saying it’s “better for the environment,” they know the company is really just trying to cut costs.

Two Sides continues to actively challenge major companies and other large organizations that make misleading environmental claims about paper products. For more information about the Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign, visit www.twosidesna.org/anti-greenwash-campaign/.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE HERE

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South  America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

About the survey

The survey queried a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older across the United States.

Media contact

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America, Inc.

P:  937-999-7729

E:  info@twosidesna.org

CHICAGO – July 8, 2021 – Two Sides North America is pleased to announce that DPI Direct (www.dpidirect.com) has joined our community of advocates for the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Headquartered in Poway, California, DPI Direct specializes in UV-offset, Indigo digital, labels and large format printing, and offers a wide array of marketing services, from direct mail and trade show booths to retail signage and point-of-purchase displays.

“Printers are on the front lines when it comes to educating brands, retailers and other stakeholders about the inherent sustainability of print and paper, so we’re especially excited to have a premier West Coast printer like DPI Direct join Two Sides,” says Two Sides President Kathi Rowzie. “Small and medium size printers like DPI Direct are a key part of our network and our education efforts, helping us reach many print buyers who want to make sustainable communications choices but often don’t know the facts about paper’s contributions to a more sustainable, circular economy.”

“We’re passionate about helping our customers create custom communication materials that help them meet their business goals, including their sustainability goals,” says DPI Direct President and CEO Sam Mousavi. “Since 2003, DPI has provided high-quality printing services, and we’re constantly improving our equipment and technology to reduce our environmental footprint and remain at the innovative forefront of the industry.

“We know that our customers  – and their customers – are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their communication choices,” Mousavi explains. “Our membership in Two Sides provides the resources to help us tell paper’s great, fact-based sustainability story and makes us part of the larger, collective effort to correct environmental misconceptions about our industry that individual companies like DPI cannot accomplish on our own.”

By joining Two Sides, DPI Direct has access to a large library of co-brandable communications tools, consumer research, industry-leading information resources, sustainability expertise and member networking opportunities.

Two Sides membership starts at just $250 a year and offers lots of great benefits.  For information on how to join, please visit https://twosidesna.org/become-a-member/.

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Side North America is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. Our members include companies and allied industry organizations from across the graphic communications and paper-based packaging value chain. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America, Inc.

P:  937-999-7729

E:  info@twosidesna.org

 

 

Parents of Students in Grades K through 12 Show Overwhelming Preference for Printed Books Over Digital

The Book Manufacturers Institute (BMI) recently commissioned well-known pollster Frank Luntz to find out how parents view the effectiveness of various learning materials, including books, textbooks and workbooks. The most definitive conclusion was that virtually every parent wants physical materials as part of student learning. 85% of parents want physical books in some form, and 88% think they are important and essential learning tools.

In summarizing the study results, Luntz said, “With parents keenly aware of the shortcomings of online learning thanks to the pandemic, this finding is only surprising in its intensity and uniformity. Every demographic and geographic subgroup agrees: printed materials are essential to student learning.”

In the survey of 1,000 parents of K-12 school children across America, the results could not be more conclusive. Parents are deeply focused on what their children learn and, just as important, how they learn it: by a 69% to 31% margin, parents chose physical over online materials when given the option.

In every possible measurement, parents believe physical books will outperform online. From testing results to successful learning, from knowledge retention to focusing on the subject, parents simply believe the physical book is the superior teaching tool.

The survey showed that frustrations with online learning during COVID are real. More than 80% of parents from all backgrounds (including 74% of those who typically favor online materials) believe printed materials would have made their jobs helping their students learn from home easier.

“Parents are more engaged with their children’s education, and they want the help only physical books, textbooks and workbooks can provide,” Luntz said.

Parents cited distractions that students encounter with online materials, such as the ease of surfing the internet during instruction, as the No. 1 concern in moving away from physical printed materials. It’s why parents believe their kids will comprehend better using physical books and why over 70% of parents would prefer their kids hold a book rather than a tablet.

In addition to commissioning the national poll, BMI asked Dr. Naomi Baron, Professor Emerita of Linguistics at American University, to write a whitepaper that summarizes the scientific research around reading print versus digital and how each impacts learning. Dr. Baron explains, “An abundance of research now substantiates that yes, medium matters for learning. While both print and digital have roles to play, the evidence demonstrates the continuing importance of print for sustained, mindful reading, which is critical to the educational process.”

For complete survey results, visit the BMI website.

 

Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign Scores Big Wins, Builds Momentum for Strong Results in 2021

New Fact Sheet on Greenwashing Now Available

With pandemic lockdowns as a backdrop, banks, utilities, telecoms and other large service providers boosted their efforts to switch customers from paper to electronic communication over the last 15 months, and with those efforts came a new wave of misleading environmental claims about paper – greenwashing.

The Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign mobilized to push back against this tide of new claims in January after a 10-month pandemic-related interruption, and wins have been steadily increasing. Thanks to this renewed effort, 14 companies have changed or removed misleading environmental claims related to print and paper so far this year, including large banks, utilities and notably, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, whose communications reach 44 million Americans or 15% of the U.S. population. This is in addition to seven wins in 2020 on greenwashing cases that were already in progress.

“We know that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact their choices have on the environment, and that environmental claims made by companies they trust can influence their decision making,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “But those claims often are not based in fact. Many companies continue to encourage consumers to switch from paper to electronic communications using unsubstantiated claims that digital communication is green, saves trees and is better for the environment, and this activity has increased significantly during the pandemic.

“These are clear cases of greenwashing that damage consumer perceptions of paper and put at risk the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the North American print, paper and mail sector,” Rowzie adds. “That’s why Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign is needed now more than ever.”

The campaign has achieved a total of 148 wins in the U.S. and Canada (more than 700 globally) since its inception in 2012, bringing the North American success rate to 68%.

The goal of the Anti-Greenwashing Campaign is to directly engage and encourage major North American corporations to adopt best practices for environmental marketing established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC),  the Competition Bureau of Canada (CBC), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14021). These standards are quite detailed, but in a nutshell they say that environmental marketing claims should be accurate, substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence and should not suggest environmental benefits by using broad, vague terms like “green” and “environmentally friendly.”

“One of the distinguishing features of the Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign is that we don’t push a ‘pixels versus paper’ scenario but instead recognize that both print and electronic communications have attractive benefits and environmental consequences,” Rowzie explains. “It’s a straightforward approach that simply says, ‘Hey Corporate CEO, your company is making unsubstantiated marketing claims about the environmental attributes of print and paper. Here are the facts. We encourage you to follow best practices for environmental marketing from the FTC, CBC and others, and put an end to your misleading claims.’”

Not only are greenwashing claims unacceptable under established environmental marketing standards, but they can also harm the companies making them. “Greenwashing distracts from a company’s legitimate environmental initiatives and can damage corporate reputations when misleading claims are exposed,” Rowzie explains. “And some consumers are skeptical that a commitment to environmental improvement is the underlying motive for companies’ push to go paperless. In a recent Two Sides survey, just over half of consumers said that when a company encourages them to switch from paper to digital communication because “it’s better for the environment,” they know the real reason is that the company is trying to cut costs.”

To promote greater understanding of what greenwashing is and why it should be avoided, Two Sides has published a new four-page fact sheet titled Go Green, Go Paperless” Messages are Misleading: The Facts About Greenwashing. 

 “We use this fact sheet when we contact companies about their paper greenwashing claims, but it’s a great tool that anyone can download and share with employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders,” Rowzie explains. “It’s an effective tool to help explain what greenwashing is, the harm it causes and why paper is an inherently sustainable choice that contributes to a circular economy.”

If you see a greenwashing claim from one of your service provides – on a bill, statement, envelope, website or email – send a screenshot, scan or link to info@twosidesna.org.   

For more facts about the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, click here.

 

 

New Two Sides Survey Shows U.S. Consumers Believe Paper-based Packaging is Better for the Environment than Other Packaging Materials

Packaging Preferences Unpacked

 

CHICAGO – June 9, 2021 –  With physical stores closed during the pandemic, the boom in online shopping resulted in record numbers of packages arriving on consumers’ doorsteps. Along with all that merchandise came a growing awareness of the materials used to package and ship products, and the impact those materials have on the environment. A new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna found that U.S. consumers believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment than other packaging materials.

Paper: The preferred and sustainable packaging choice

Survey respondents were asked to rank their preferred packaging material (paper/cardboard, plastic, glass and metal) based on 15 environmental, aesthetic and practical attributes. Overall, paper/cardboard packaging was preferred for 10 of the 15 attributes, with half of respondents saying paper/cardboard is better for the environment. Consumers also preferred paper/cardboard packaging on other environmental attributes, including being home compostable (65%) and easier to recycle (44%).

Glass packaging was preferred by consumers for four practical and aesthetic attributes, including being reusable (39%), having a preferred look and feel (39%), providing a better image for the brand (38%) and better protection (35%).  45% preferred metal packaging for being strong and robust. Plastic packaging was not preferred for any of the 15 attributes but was ranked second for six attributes. Only one in 10 respondents believe plastic packaging is better for the environment.

Consumers demand that brands and retailers do more

Brands and retailers play a crucial role in driving innovation and the use of recyclable packaging. In response to increasing consumer pressure to operate more sustainably, brands and retailers in many sectors, from wine, spirits and soft drinks to candy, cosmetics and apparel are shifting from plastic to paper packaging.

The survey found that 49% of consumers would buy more from brands and retailers who remove plastic from their packaging, and 39% would consider avoiding a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging.

“It’s important for consumers to understand that just because packaging is recyclable does not mean it actually gets recycled,” explains Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “Around 66% of all paper and paper-based packaging and nearly 89% of corrugated cardboard gets recycled into new products in the U.S. These high recycling rates and expected increases are due to the paper industry’s already completed and continuing investment in recycling infrastructure, which between 2019 and 2023 will exceed $4 billion. In comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection reports that plastics, glass and metals are recycled at just 9%, 25% and 34%, respectively.”

Who should be responsible for reducing waste from single-use packaging?

As consumers, businesses and governments looks for ways to create a more sustainable, circular economy, waste from single-use packaging, particularly in marine environments, has come into sharp focus. When consumers were asked who has the greatest responsibility for reducing the use of non-recyclable, single-use packaging, more than a third (36%) said individuals have the primary responsibility, followed by 23% who believe it’s up to brands and retailers, 23% who believe it’s up to packaging manufacturers, and 18% who believe it’s the government’s responsibility.

“As the call for the circularity of product lifecycles grows louder, paper has always had a head start,” Rowzie says. “And the industry’s strong support and investment in recycling has transformed the circularity of paper packaging from vision to reality. At a time when there is growing alarm about the low recycled rates of other packaging materials, paper recycling is a striking exception.”

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

About the survey

The survey, Paper’s Place in a Post-pandemic World, queried a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older across the United States in January 2021.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE HERE.

Media contact

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America, Inc.

P:  937-999-7729

E:  info@twosidesna.org

 

 

Has the Pandemic Changed the Way U.S. Consumers Access News and Information?

New Two Sides survey shows U.S. consumer reading habits have changed, but print on paper remains a valued and sustainable part of everyday life

CHICAGO – May 25, 2021 – Print media has seen significant disruption during the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdowns changing the way we access and consume news and information. But even as familiarity with and use of online media has increased, print on paper remains a widely used and highly valued resource. This according to a new survey, “Paper’s Place in a Post-Pandemic World,” commissioned by non-profit organization Two Sides North America and conducted by global research firm Toluna.

“Print and digital communications are often compared as an either/or proposition to suggest one is better than the other,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie, “but our research shows that both play an important part in today’s information-driven economy. Rather than adopt a one-size-fits all digital communications strategy, savvy news organizations and other businesses will continue to offer consumers a choice and in doing so, help to assure that those who are unwilling or unable to access digital information are not disadvantaged.”

As a result of pandemic-related lockdowns, traditional news brands have successfully developed or enhanced their digital platforms, leading many to turn to online media as a primary source of news and information. But it cannot be assumed that everyone who moved online for news did so by choice or that all who moved online will remain there as restrictions on work, travel and leisure are lifted. While the Two Sides survey showed that 58% of consumers intend to read more news online in the future, this percentage has not changed since 2019.  And although print newspaper readership has taken a hit during the pandemic, 49% of consumers say they would be concerned if printed news were to disappear.

It’s important to note that for many Americans, printed communication is not a choice – it’s a necessity.  The U.S. Federal Communications Commission estimates that some 21 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet service,1 but other organizations, including Microsoft,2 report estimates as high as 157 million. In addition, many who have access to internet service cannot afford it. Consumers in rural areas without broadband infrastructure and many among our most vulnerable populations – older Americans, those with disabilities and low-income individuals –  depend solely on printed newspapers, magazines, books, bills and statements.

In addition, digital communication is not universally welcomed. Nearly three in 10 consumers (29%) prefer to read newspapers in print, and that number jumps to more than four in 10 for those over age 55.  44% of consumers say they gain a better understanding of a story when reading news in print versus online. When it comes to magazines, 38% of consumers prefer to read in print, with percentages climbing to 49% for those over 55 and 63% for those over 65. When all age groups are included, 44% prefer to read books in print.

As might be expected, the survey shows that younger adults, those aged 18 to 24 in particular, prefer to read all types of media online. But even among these younger consumers, 28% prefer to receive and read  personal information from doctors and hospitals in print, 27% prefer to read books in print and 23% prefer to receive bills and statements from service providers in print.

“It’s clear that digital communication is changing the way we receive news and information,” Rowzie says, “but Americans’ growing dependence on digital communication brings its own concerns, which in turn presents opportunities for print media to hold and potentially reclaim a  bigger slice of the consumer media pie. Our survey reveals that 52% of consumers believe they spend too much time on their electronic devices, and just over half are concerned that the overuse of digital devices may be damaging their health. And as headlines about online security breaches become a common occurrence, 64% say they are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged.”

Consumers also are increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of their communication choices, but there are a lot of misconceptions in the marketplace about the sustainability of both digital communication and print on paper.  “Our survey shows that 67% of consumers believe electronic communication is better for the environment that print on paper,” Rowzie says.  “But the miniaturization of today’s electronic devices and the ‘invisible’ nature of digital infrastructure and cloud-based services cause many to vastly underestimate the environmental footprint of electronic communication, which includes the mining of raw materials like iron, copper and rare earth minerals to produce electronic devices, the massive amounts of predominately fossil fuel energy used to manufacture and operate those devices and the server farms that support them, and the enormous and growing amount of e-waste generated.

“Like all manufactured products, paper has an environmental footprint, too,” Rowzie explains. “But in the U.S., it is a material whose industry grows and regrows its own raw material (wood fiber from trees), derives two-thirds of the power to drive its processes from renewable, carbon-neutral biofuel, cleans and returns more than 90% of the water it uses to the environment and recycles more than 95% of the chemicals it uses to turn trees into pulp. In addition, with a 66% recovery rate, paper is the most recycled material in the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  That’s a powerful sustainability story the electronics industry cannot match.”

For more facts about the environmental sustainability of print and paper products, visit https://twosidesna.org/two-sides-fact-sheet

About Two Sides North America, Inc.

Two Side North America is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products.  We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America, Inc.

P:  937-999-7729

E:  info@twosidesna.org

  Federal Communications Commission, “2019 Broadband Deployment Report,” 2019, https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/2019-broadband-deployment-report
 Microsoft, “Microsoft Airband: An Update on Connecting Rural America,” 2019, https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2020/03/05/update-connecting-rural-america/

Five Signs Those Anti-Paper Studies May Be Bogus … And How to Spot Them

You’ve seen them in popular periodicals, industry newsletters and in your email: some self-interested group announces the completion of a “scientific comparison” that “proves” the superiority of an alternative material or “environmentally friendly” substitute for paper or paper-based packaging. The study appears to have all the trappings and buzz words of legitimate research, but is it?

To give you an idea of how Two Sides approaches this challenge, what follows are five signs that make us suspicious of half-baked or bogus comparisons to paper.  You too can look for these signs whenever these studies cross your desk.

To begin with, anyone setting out to prove there’s a better alternative to paper products has a very high hurdle to clear: proving that theirs is more sustainable than paper or paper-based packaging. It can take a lot of data stretching and twisting to yield a conclusion often at odds with the facts, and that kind of manipulation leaves telltale signs.

Who commissioned the study? The first question to ask is best summed up with the Latin phrase, cui bono, who benefits? Was the research conducted in such a way that its results were preordained to support its sponsors? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a self-interested group or competitor commissioning a study comparing its alternative with paper products, as long as it is honest, scientific, and the researchers are allowed to let the chips fall where they may.

Is it based on a real life cycle assessment (LCA) or is it a marketing piece in LCA disguise? Next, we look to see if the study is one of a growing cottage industry of marketing pieces wrapped in a veneer of life cycle terminology. A good first step is to determine if the study complies with the LCA principles and procedures developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in this case ISO 14040 and 14044. ISO defines LCA as a compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product throughout its life cycle. A study that conforms with ISO standards carefully defines the products that are bring compared and what they are designed to do (what ISO calls their “functional unit”), sets specific study boundaries around the products, and meets other requirements, including how flows into or out of the production process should be allocated. Adherence to ISO standards doesn’t guarantee the scientific fairness or integrity of a study that makes environmental comparisons, but it makes it more difficult for the sponsors to bias their conclusions and easier to spot when they do.

What’s under the hood? No matter what the supposed pedigree of a study, we need to know what’s in it. Do the parts support the whole? For that very reason, two of the most critical principles of ISO 14040 for LCA studies are transparency and critical review, especially when two or more alternatives are being compared for public consumption. An LCA is transparent when its goals, methodology, data sources and assumptions are visible for all to see. A comparative LCA can only be trusted when we can be sure that it doesn’t set different goalposts for different products, a practice we often see in studies that purport to show the superiority of plastics or alternative-fiber paper to wood-fiber paper. We also check to see if there is an independent critical review by a third-party panel of three experts (a requirement to achieve ISO-conformance) and who is on that panel. ISO standards require that the LCA sponsors appoint panel members whose job it is to examine and comment on the integrity of the study at various stages in the process.

Are there footnotes to nowhere? When we’re confronted with conclusions that defy common sense, our instinct is to trace the data behind those conclusions to the specific, relevant research cited to support them, whether those findings were original to the study or whether they come from another credible source. Here’s where many of these claims break down. We often find that the trail of citations goes in circles, or nowhere at all. Some advocacy groups, in particular, have a habit of citing another advocacy group’s study, and that second group may not have conducted any original research either. The last reference in the chain may just be dangling in space, without any supporting data other than opinion or conjecture.

Does one size fit all? Another common practice is to use generic online environmental calculators. A surprising number of businesses, advocacy groups and even large corporations, who should know better, use these tools to generate data that will serve as the foundation for their conclusions. The lure – they’re typically free, easily accessible and deliver immediate results. However, unlike LCAs, which are product- and process-specific, online calculators are blunt instruments that of necessity are based on national industry averages – and sometimes on assumptions that don’t hold up in the real world. At best, they serve as a starting point to suggest further study. At worst, they are about as relevant to an individual product as a daily horoscope. Change a parameter here or there, and the result could be the opposite of what the calculator suggests.

In a similar way, companies or groups trying to avoid the time and expense of properly conducted LCAs often give in to the temptation to claim that someone else’s study validates their own product comparisons, suggesting, for example, that the results of an LCA on a corrugated box produced in Indonesia would apply to corrugated products produced in North America. Valid LCAs are as accurate a reflection of the processes used to manufacture an individual product as their practitioners can make them. For example, among other things, the LCA for a paper product would evaluate data from the specific mill that manufactured it – raw materials, chemicals, water and energy consumption, type of energy used, greenhouse gas emissions released and so on. With this level of specificity, what’s true for one product is highly unlikely to be true for another.

In the real world, comprehensive, ISO-conformant life cycle studies with external third-party critical review can be expensive and time- and labor-intensive, requiring careful assumptions, mountains of data and sound methodology. For those who market or advocate substitutes for paper products, LCAs often lead to conclusions they hadn’t anticipated and don’t like. Consequently, some of them opt for half-baked environmental comparisons they believe will throw the worst light on paper products.

 

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