90 Million More Consumers Now Safeguarded from Anti-Paper Greenwashing

Two Sides North America Anti-Greenwashing Campaign Persuades 21 Leading Companies to Remove Unsubstantiated Environmental Claims in 1H23

Since its inception, the Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign has eliminated literally billions of instances of paper-related greenwashing in the United States and Canada, and its engagement with large utilities, banks, insurers and other organizations during the first half of 2023 has added to this success.

During the first six months of 2023, 21 additional companies representing approximately 90 million customers have removed greenwashing messages such as “Go green, Go paperless” and  “Go paperless to help protect the environment” from their marketing communications.

“In addition to misleading consumers, these types of unsubstantiated environmental claims pose a serious threat to the economic security of the more than 7 million people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy North American paper, printing and mailing sector,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “Our recent research found that 65% of consumers who’ve seen anti-paper greenwashing are influenced to go paperless.”

That same research found that the Two Sides Anti-greenwashing Campaign has preserved more than $300 million in annual revenue for the paper, printing and mailing sector over the last decade.

Two Sides 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.

“Paper is one of the few products on earth that already has an environmentally sustainable, circular life cycle,” Rowzie says. “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 water, but in reality 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 and other organizations they trust are telling them so. The Two Sides Anti-greenwashing Campaign is working hard to change that.”

You can help Two Sides in the fight to eliminate anti-paper greenwashing and protect North American jobs. If you see instances of greenwashing, please email them as a PDF, JPG file or link to info@twosidesna.org.

For more facts about the sustainability of print and paper products, please visit www.twosidesna.org/mythsandfacts.

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DOWNLOAD PRESS RELEASE HERE.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President, Two Sides North America

E: info@twosidesna.org

P: 937-999-7729

 

Two Sides Submits Comments to FTC

The Need for the Green Guides is as Urgent as Ever

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently announced its intent to review its Green Guides (Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims), asking for public comment to determine if the Guides should be retained and, if so, how they can be improved. Two Sides responded, telling the FTC that the Guides are needed now more than ever, and provided several recommendations for improvement.

First published in 1992 and most recently revised in 2012, The Green Guides were developed to help marketers avoid using unsubstantiated environmental claims that mislead consumers. They have been an invaluable tool in Two Sides’ Anti-Greenwashing Campaign to persuade major corporations and other organizations to eliminate anti-paper “Go Green, Go Paperless” claims from their customer communications.

Research conducted by Two Sides last year found that 65% of U.S. consumers who have seen anti-paper greenwashing claims from their service providers are influenced to switch from paper to electronic communications. The study also showed that the Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign is having a powerful impact, preserving more than $308 million in revenue for the print, paper and mailing sector each year.

You can help Two Sides put an end to deceptive greenwashing claims that ultimately damage every business in the print and paper industry. If you see anti-paper greenwashing claims from your service providers, please scan or snip a copy and send it to info@twosidesna.org.

Download a copy of Two Sides’ comments to the FTC here.

The deadline for submitting comments on the FTC Green Guides has been extended from February 21 to April 24.  If your company or organization wishes to submit comments on the Guides, you may do so here.

What Would Ben Franklin Do?

Making the Environmental Case for Paper

 

By Kathi Rowzie, President, Two Sides North America

This article was originally published in the March/April 2022 edition of Mailing Systems Technology Magazine.

Mail center professionals, who already operate in a challenging business environment, are increasingly faced with the task of responding to the popular, but scientifically flawed narrative that the paper critical to their operations is somehow environmentally unsustainable. If this describes you, then Ben Franklin, father of the Postal Service and first U.S. postmaster general, offers some sage advice: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

In our increasingly digital world, knowledge – knowing the facts about the unique sustainability of paper – is a potent antidote to the common environmental myths used to justify replacing paper mail with electronic communications: that paper production and use destroys forests, is a major contributor to climate change, consumes enormous amounts of water and generates excessive amounts of waste.

Whether you are the leader of an in-plant mailing operation or the CEO of a company delivering mailing solutions to customers around the globe, these “go paperless” conversations will eventually land on your doorstep, if they haven’t already. To demonstrate to your management, investors, customers and other stakeholders that print on paper is a truly sustainable choice, both today and in the future, you need to be armed with the facts.

Fortunately, there is an arsenal of data to help you make the case for the sustainability paper.

Myth: Using paper causes deforestation and destroys forests

In the United States, trees to make paper are grown, harvested and regrown using sustainable forest management practices that perpetuate infinitely renewable forestlands. While the paper industry was producing products that enrich the lives of consumers, net forestland area in the United States actually increased 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, according to the latest Global Forest Resources Assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That’s an area equivalent to 1,200 NFL football fields every day!

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) reports that less than 2% of U.S. forestland is harvested each year, compared with 3% that is disturbed annually by natural causes like fire, insects and disease, and most of this 2% of harvested wood is used for non-paper purposes.

Contrary to the myth that paper destroys forests, the production of paper products is a powerful economic engine and driving force in keeping U.S. lands forested. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the paper industry encourages landowners to manage their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. More than half (58%) of the forestland in the U.S. is privately owned and managed, mostly by millions of small landowners, and they are under no obligation to keep their lands forested. Without the economic incentive provided by the paper industry, untold millions of acres of forestland would likely have been lost permanently to commercial land development – converted to building projects, strip malls or parking lots.

So, is deforestation in the U.S. a real concern? Yes, but using paper is not the cause. The FAO defines deforestation as the permanent loss of forestland. In fact, the definition specifically excludes logging for the production of paper and other products because trees in these “working forests” are expected to grow back, either through natural regeneration or sustainable forestry practices. In the United States, the primary cause of forest loss is rapidly expanding urban development, this according to the USFS.

Myth: Paper is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change

According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  the pulp and paper industry is responsible for only 0.5% of total annual U.S. GHG emissions. These very low emissions are due to decades of energy efficiency and process improvements at U.S paper mills, and to the fact that the U.S. paper industry generates two-thirds of the energy to manufacture its products using renewable, carbon-neutral fuels, primarily biomass.

According to the EPA, the paper industry produces more carbon-neutral bioenergy than any other industrial sector, using mostly wood-based leftovers from the papermaking process. This bioenergy use prevents around 181 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year – roughly equivalent to removing 35 million cars from the road.

Myth: Paper manufacturing consumes enormous amounts of water

While it’s true that the paper industry uses large amounts of water to manufacture its products, most of that water is not consumed in the manufacturing process, this according to the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI). NCASI reports that water used in the papermaking process is recycled up to 10 times in a typical paper mill, and then nearly 90% of that water is cleaned to meet federal and state clean water standards before it is returned to its source. Most of the remaining water evaporates back into the environment, with around 1% retained in the manufactured paper.

Myth:  Paper generates excessive amounts of waste

When it comes to circularity, the idea that products should be reused or recycled, paper has all other materials beat hands down. Thanks to the paper industry’s voluntary, multi-billion dollar investments in commercial paper recovery infrastructure and to the commitment of millions of organizations and individual Americans who choose to recycle every day, U.S. paper recycling has nearly doubled over the past 20 years. At 68%, the EPA reports that the U.S. paper recovery rate is higher than any other material in the country, including plastics (9%), glass (25%) and metals (34%). The recovery rate of corrugated cardboard is 89%.

Myth:  Electronic communication is better for the environment than paper

The miniaturization of digital devices and the “invisibility” of the infrastructures needed to support them leads many to underestimate the environmental footprint of digital technology. This phenomenon is reinforced by the widespread availability of services on the “cloud,” which makes the physical reality of use and the direct environmental impacts of digital technology all the more imperceptible.

Any organization considering a paperless strategy for sustainability reasons must recognize that digital technology places enormous and growing burdens on the environment. Here too, the proof is in the data.

First, consider the environmentally intensive drilling and mining required to extract source materials from the earth. Computers, tablets and other electronic devices are made with non-renewable resources – fossil fuels, chemicals, precious metals, rare earth minerals and toxic minerals like lead, mercury and arsenic that are dangerous when released into the environment. Cisco, the worldwide leader in internet technology, projects that North America will have 5 billion networked devices in 2023, up from 3 billion in 2018 – a 40% increase. Cisco also projects that the average per capita number of devices and connections in the U.S. will reach 13.6 in 2023, far higher than the estimated 2023 global average of 3.6 devices per person.

Electronic devices and the massive server farms that support them are powered using mostly fossil fuels (only 17% of U.S. energy is generated from renewable sources). The Shift Project, a think tank focused on the shift to a post-carbon economy, reports that energy consumption for digital devices is increasing 9% each year, and the share of digital technologies in global greenhouse gas emissions increased by half between 2013 and 2019, from 2.5% to 3.7%.  A 2015 study (Andrae and Elder) estimates that the information technology sector could use as much as 51% of global electricity and contribute 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

And according to the most recent Global E-Waste Monitor report, electronic devices create nearly 7 million metric tons of e-waste annually in the U.S., and only 15% of that e-waste is recycled. Most of the remaining e-waste is either burned, landfilled or dumped.

Paper: A responsible environmental choice

 Digital technology has become an essential part of our everyday lives and is likely making beneficial contributions to your mailing operations, but it also has wide-ranging environmental impacts that continue to grow. While all manufacturing processes have an environmental footprint, the fact that paper is made with an infinitely renewable resource, is manufactured using mostly renewable, carbon-neutral energy, consumes very little water, is recyclable and is recycled more than any other material, makes a strong case for its continued use.

Two Sides North America (twosidesna.org)  is a non-profit organization whose members span the entire print, paper, paper-based packaging and mail value chain. Funded entirely by membership dues, Two Sides is the only industry organization that directly challenges unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper made by corporations, the media, government agencies and others. Two Sides also supports its members with factual, science-based resources to supplement their own sustainability efforts. Learn how to join at twosidesna.org/become-a-member/.

New Research Shows Anti-paper Greenwashing Works, Misleading U.S. Consumers to Switch from Paper to Electronic Bills and Statements

But Two Sides North America’s Anti-greenwashing Campaign Preserves Millions in Annual Revenue for the U.S. Paper, Printing and Mailing Sector

CHICAGO – May 18, 2022 – Anti-paper greenwashing works, unfairly costing the U.S. paper, printing and mailing sector huge sums in lost revenue each year. But Two Sides North America’s (TSNA) Anti-greenwashing Campaign is succeeding in eliminating many of these misleading claims, clawing back hundreds of millions for these businesses, according to the results of the latest TSNA study.

In their efforts to cut costs, many leading U.S. financial institutions, utilities, telecom companies and other service providers are using unsubstantiated environmental marketing claims – greenwashing – to persuade consumers to switch from paper to digital bills and statements, suggesting that going paperless is “green,” “saves trees” or is “better for the environment.”

The new TSNA research results illustrate the damaging effects these greenwashing claims have on the U.S. paper, printing and mailing sector, finding that 65% of those who have seen anti-paper greenwashing claims are influenced to switch from paper to electronic bills and statements. The study, conducted in partnership with global research firm Censuswide, also showed that the Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign is having a powerful impact, preserving more than $308 million in annual revenue for the sector.

The Two Sides study surveyed 2000 U.S. consumers and evaluated data on major U.S. companies that have eliminated unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims as a result of the TSNA Anti-greenwashing Campaign. These companies represent approximately 9.5 billion annual bills and statements.

“This study not only confirms the remarkable success of Two Sides’ Anti-greenwashing Campaign, but also drives home the serious financial risk that greenwashing among service providers poses to the paper, printing and mailing sector, threatening the economic security of more than 7 million Americans whose livelihoods depend on paper,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie.

In its most recent report (2020) on transactional mail, the U.S. Postal Service reported that U.S. households annually receive more than 15 billion bills and statements in the mail, representing 41% of total First Class mail. Bills are primarily from credit card companies, utilities, telephone/cable companies and insurance companies, while statements are predominantly sent from the financial/banking sector.

“The Two Sides Anti-greenwashing Campaign has been highly successful, but there’s much more work to do as service providers continue to distort the paper industry’s great environmental record and threaten paper, print and mail volumes with opportunistic greenwashing claims,” Rowzie says.

“And it’s important to note that banks, utilities and telecoms are not the only ones using unsubstantiated environmental claims to promote going paperless,” she adds. “Two Sides is also challenging entities like government agencies and large digital document management firms that are greenwashing to encourage both individual consumers and businesses to switch all paper communication to digital versions in the cloud, at the same time failing to recognize the vast and growing environmental footprint of electronic communication.”

Two Sides challenges greenwashing companies and other organizations 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.

“Paper is one of the few products on earth that already has an environmentally sustainable, circular life cycle,” Rowzie says. “North American paper is made from an infinitely renewable natural resource – trees grown, harvested and regrown in sustainably managed forests. It’s manufactured using mostly renewable, carbon neutral bioenergy in a process that uses water, but in reality consumes very little of it. And paper products are recycled more than any other material. But many consumers believe paper is bad for the environment because organizations seeking to cut costs or promote their own digital business objectives are telling them so. Two Sides is working hard to change that.”

For more information about the Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign, visit www.twosidesna.org/anti-greenwash-campaign/.

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DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE HERE.

About Two Sides

Two Sides is a global, member-funded non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the uniquely sustainable attributes of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides’ members span the entire print, paper and paper-based packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, packaging, inks and chemicals, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and mail operators.  For more information, visit www.twosidesna.org.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America

info@twosidesna.org

937-999-7729

Two Sides Global Anti-Greenwashing Campaign Momentum Continues

Since 2010, Two Sides’ fact-driven campaign has persuaded more than 880 organizations globally, including 159 in North America, to remove unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper from their marketing communications.

CHICAGO – May 4, 2022 – As banks, utilities, telecom companies and government agencies face mounting economic uncertainties, many of these services providers are looking to cut costs by encouraging their customers to switch from paper to digital communications. But all too often, these cost-cutting appeals are cloaked in unsubstantiated and misleading environmental marketing claims that suggest going paperless is “green,” “saves trees” or “is better for the environment.”

“These greenwashing claims not only fail to comply with established environmental marketing standards, but they also damage consumer perceptions of paper’s environmental sustainability,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “And that’s a threat to the economic security of millions of people in the United States and Canada whose livelihoods depend on the paper, print and mailing sector.”

North America’s leading corporations and other service providers influence millions of consumers every day with their anti-paper greenwashing claims, leading many to believe that the use of paper is destroying forests and is bad for the environment. For example, a 2021 Two Sides survey of U.S. consumers showed that 60% believe that U.S. forests are shrinking, when in fact, U.S. net forest area increased by 18 million acres over the past 30 years – the equivalent of 1,200 NFL football fields every day – according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment. The UN FAO reports that Canada’s net forest area remained stable at around 857 million acres during the same period.

“Paper is one of the few products on earth that already has an environmentally sustainable, circular life cycle,” Rowzie says. “North American paper is made from an infinitely renewable natural resource – trees grown, harvested and regrown in sustainably managed forests. It’s manufactured using mostly renewable, carbon neutral bioenergy in a process that uses water, but in reality consumes very little of it. And paper products are recycled more than any other material. But many consumers believe paper is bad for the environment because their service providers are telling them so. Two Sides is working hard to change that.”

Two Sides challenges greenwashing companies and other organizations 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. Because North America’s leading corporations and other service providers have such an expansive reach, Two Sides anti-greenwashing efforts to date have had an enormous impact, with unsubstantiated “go paperless” environmental messages removed from literally billions of customer communications.

“But there’s much more work to do as companies continue to distort the paper industry’s great environmental record and threaten paper, print and mail volumes with opportunistic greenwashing claims,” Rowzie says. “This is why the Anti-Greenwashing Campaign continues to be a top priority for Two Sides.”

Across North and South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Two Sides has challenged more than 1,900 organizations that have made unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper and continues to pursue those whose use greenwashing claims to mask their cost-cutting efforts.

“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 concludes.

To learn more about Two Sides North America and its Anti-Greenwashing Campaign, please visit www.twosidesna.org.

About Two Sides

Two Sides is a global, member-funded non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the uniquely sustainable attributes of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides’ members span the entire print, paper and paper-based packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, packaging, inks and chemicals, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and mail operators.  For more information, visit www.twosidesna.org.

 Download the press release here.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America

info@twosidesna.org

937-999-7729

 

 

Defending the Sustainability of Paper: We’re All In This Together

Listen to our Podcast with Keypoint Intelligence

Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie and Two Sides Europe Managing Director Jonathan Tame recently talked with German Sacristan, director of on-demand printing and publishing at Keypoint Intelligence, about greenwashing – the use of unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims by corporations and other entities to encourage consumers to stop using paper – and what Two Sides is doing to eliminate it.

Funded entirely through membership dues, Two Sides is the only industry organization that directly challenges major corporations, the media and other types of organizations that promote common environmental myths, such as going paperless “saves trees,” “protects the environment” and “reduces carbon emissions.” Our global anti-greenwashing campaign has resulted in more than 800 companies, government agencies and other organizations changing or eliminating anti-paper environmental claims.

“In North America alone, the companies that have eliminated bogus environmental claims about paper as a result of Two Sides’ anti-greenwashing campaign collectively represent billions of instances of greenwashing and consumers numbering in the hundreds of millions who are no longer seeing anti-paper environmental messages from their service providers,” Rowzie says.

“But Two Sides did not achieve this alone,” she adds. “We’re all in this together, and the continuing support and engagement of our members is critical to helping end greenwashing and to amplifying the great sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides membership is an investment in the future of our industry, and we invite every company whose business depends on paper to join us.”

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TWO SIDES MEMBERSHIP, CLICK HERE.

Reaching Consumers in an Environmentally Responsible Way: The Return of Printed Catalogs   

By Kathi Rowzie, President, Two Sides North America

After a sharp decline in 2020, printed catalogs are coming back in a big way. Market research firm Keypoint Intelligence reports that digital print volumes – the production method for most smaller-run catalogs – has rebounded close to its pre-pandemic level, and demand is expected to soar past pre-pandemic production next year and continue rising at a compound annual rate of 8% through 2025.

Why? As the rising cost of digital advertising increases the cost of acquiring and keeping customers, brands are looking for omnichannel strategies that enhance customer experiences, build loyalty and increase sales. Printed catalogs allow brands to connect with consumers in ways that digital platforms cannot.

The touch, feel and even the smell of catalogs provide a more intimate shopping encounter, and that interaction can be highly personalized thanks to today’s digital printing technology. Catalogs have staying power far beyond a quick scan on a handheld device. And their enticing visual appeal offers a shopping-as-entertainment experience that drives consumers online to learn more, seek additional products and make both online and in-store purchases. At the same time, the ability to target digital advertising has become less precise with the advent of new online privacy policies that allow consumers to opt out of being tracked.

The catalog comeback can also be attributed to brands’ efforts to tap into growing consumer awareness of sustainability and the desire to create a more environmentally friendly, circular economy. These savvy brands are looking beyond simplistic environmental paper calculators and pop culture myths about the environmental sustainability of paper — that it causes deforestation, is a major contributor to climate change, consumes huge amounts of water and generates excessive waste – and instead, are depending on hard, science-based facts to drive their marketing decisions.

For example, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines deforestation as the permanent loss of forestland. In the United States, trees to make paper are grown, harvested and regrown using sustainable forest management practices that perpetuate infinitely renewable forestlands. In fact, in its recent Global Forest Resources Assessment, the UN FAO reported that net forestland area in the United States actually increased 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020. That’s an area equivalent to 1,200 NFL football fields every day. Continuing demand for sustainably sourced paper encourages landowners to keep their land forested and manage it responsibly rather than selling it for development, the leading cause of deforestation in the United States. The U.S. Forest Service reports that less than 2% of U.S. forestland is harvested each year, compared with 3% that is disturbed annually by natural causes like fire, insects and disease, and most of this 2% of harvested wood is used for non-paper purposes.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the paper industry contributes only 0.5% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. These very low emissions are due to decades of energy efficiency and process improvements at U.S paper mills, and to the fact that the U.S. paper industry generates two-thirds of the energy to manufacture its products using renewable, carbon-neutral fuels, primarily biomass.

While the paper industry uses large amounts of water to produce catalog papers, most of that water is not consumed in the manufacturing process, this according to the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI). NCASI reports that water used in the papermaking process is recycled up to 10 times in a typical paper mill, and then nearly 90% of that water is cleaned to meet federal and state clean water standards before it is returned to its source. The remaining water is retained in the manufactured paper or evaporates back into the environment.

And when it comes to circularity, paper has all other materials beat hands down. According to the U.S. EPA, around two-thirds of all paper products are recycled, more than any other material.

In today’s highly competitive marketplace where environmental responsibility is a necessary part of any marketing strategy,  brands that choose printed paper catalogs to effectively reach their customers can be confident that they are making a sound environmental choice.

 

 

Survey Reveals Increased Consumer Interest in Direct Mail, Other Traditional Media Channels

A  recent study released by R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, a leading global provider of marketing and business communications, reveals that traditional marketing channels, including word of mouth, direct mail, and in-store signage, are largely untapped by marketers. The study, based on surveys of both U.S. marketing professionals and consumers, uncovers significant differences between marketer assumptions and what consumers say actually influences their brand awareness and purchase decisions.

Among the findings, more than half (51%) of consumers were more excited to receive direct mail in the past year than they were in the year prior, with the highest levels among Gen Y (65%), Gen Z (57%), and Gen X (53%). Baby Boomers are least likely to be excited about receiving direct mail (36%). In store, consumers show a preference for retailers who effectively use signage and displays, with a majority (58%) saying in-store signage is influential in their purchase decisions. While 67% of marketers made significant changes to their marketing strategies in the past year, the consumer data suggests that marketers should continue to fine-tune their efforts and consider re-investing in traditional marketing channels.

As marketers evaluate such reinvestment, they may also want to consider using their platforms to address widespread misconceptions about the environmental sustainability of direct mail and other paper-based channels. A recent study commissioned by Two Sides North America found that a majority of consumers (67%) believe that electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than print on paper, but the facts do not support this conclusion.

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. This footprint includes the environmentally intensive mining of finite raw materials like iron, copper and rare earth minerals to produce electronic devices, massive amounts of mostly fossil fuel energy to manufacture and operate those devices and the server farms that support them, and an enormous and growing amount of e-waste, only 15% of which gets recycled.

In contrast, paper is an inherently sustainable product. It’s primary raw material is an infinitely renewable resource – trees grown, harvested and regrown in sustainably managed forests. It’s recycled more than any other material. And because paper manufacturing uses mostly renewable, carbon neutral biomass energy,  the U.S. pulp and paper industry contributes only 0.5% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Find more sustainability facts (with source citations) about paper products and electronic communications here.

 

 

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

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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.

 

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