40 Million More Consumers Now Safeguarded from Anti-paper Greenwashing

Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign Kicks off 2023 with Big Wins

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 engagement with large utilities, banks and insurers in January and February has set the pace for millions more in 2023.

So far this year, seven additional companies representing 40 million customers have removed  “go green, go paperless,” “go paperless, protect the environment” and similar claims 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 Side 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 annually preserved more than $300 million in 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. But many consumers believe paper is bad for the environment because corporations and other organizations they trust are telling them so. Two Sides 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.




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/.

Can Paper Help Save the Planet?

The recent United Nations global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, brought the world’s leaders together again to try to reach agreement on further commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. High on the agenda was preserving the health of the world’s forests – a critical natural resource for absorbing these emissions.

With this heightened international attention on preventing deforestation, primarily in the developing world, now is a good time to remind ourselves that the North American forests that supply the wood fiber for our paper and packaging products are among the most sustainably managed in the world.

They are so well-managed, in fact, that our forests continue to be a net absorber of carbon. In the United States, sustainable forest management practices, the regeneration of forest area and modern harvesting practices resulted in a net sequestration of carbon every year from 1990 to 2019, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) reports that U.S. forests annually capture and store 14% of economy-wide carbon dioxide emissions. Natural Resources Canada reports that forestlands capture and store around 19% of all carbon dioxide equivalents emitted in the country.

The production of wood and paper products is a powerful economic engine and driving force in keeping North American 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 forest products 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.

For proof, look no further than countries where there is little economic incentive to keep lands forested. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment, those areas of the world that consume the least amount of wood have the greatest problem with the kind of deforestation that the Glasgow conferees were trying to address.

Compare that with North America’s forest products industry. While they were producing the wood and paper products that enrich the lives of consumers, net forest area in the U.S. grew by some 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, according to the UN FAO, and Canada’s forest area of 857 million acres has been stable over the same period. By law, every acre of Canadian forest that is commercially harvested must be regenerated.

In the U.S., the net average annual increase in growing stock on timberland is about 25 billion cubic feet, according to the USFS, and forests in the U.S. annually grow nearly twice as much wood as is harvested. USFS also reports that tree harvesting in the U.S. occurs on less than 2% of forestland per year in contrast to the nearly 3% disturbed annually by natural events like insects, disease, and fire, and most of this harvested wood is used for non-paper purposes. Harvesting in Canada occurs on only 0.2% of forestlands, while 4.7% is disturbed by insects and 0.5% is disturbed by fire, this according to Natural Resources Canada.

The Glasgow summit also kicked off a discussion of the inherent advantages of bio-based materials – like  paper and paper-based packaging– in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their potential role in a more broad-based, circular bio-economy. The FAO released a report demonstrating how renewable wood-based products can help combat climate change and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

According to Dr. E. Ashley Steel, Forest Statistics Expert at the UN FAO:

“There is strong evidence at the product level that wood products are associated with lower GHG emissions over their entire life cycle compared to products made from GHG-intensive and non-renewable materials. Wood and wood-based products are generally associated with lower fossil and process-based emissions when compared to non-wood products.”

The document left open for later study the extent to which paper and paper-based packaging may serve as substitutes for non-wood products in the search for those that contribute to the net reduction of greenhouse gases, but there’s little doubt that any product sourced from materials that are grown and regrown are better for combating climate change than the non-paper alternatives.

Member Spotlight

With paper production capacity of 1.1 million tons and pulp production capacity of 600,000 tons, Pixelle Specialty Solutions is the largest and fastest growing specialty papers manufacturer in North America. The company operates four paper mills in Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as a coating and converting plant in Ohio.

Pixelle’s broad portfolio of products includes inkjet papers used for wide-ranging applications, from home office and desktop printing to book publishing, billboards and wide-format printing; label stock used for cut-and-stack labels, beverage labels and thermal transfer/direct thermal labels; label and release liners; food packaging papers; bag papers; and paper for cups, straws and lids.

Pixelle is a long-time member of Two Sides and an enthusiastic supporter of Two Sides’ mission to tell the great sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging.

“The paper and packaging sustainability story needs to reach new audiences, and Two Sides has a track record of doing just that,” says Pixelle Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dave Dickerhoof. “Whether it’s fighting misleading claims about our industry’s environmental impact or working with organizations and consumers to better understand the sustainability of print, paper and fiber-based packaging, we appreciate the value Two Sides creates for its membership and for the packaging industry as a whole.”

The Pixelle team creates value for brand owners, converters and end users by providing tailored solutions that go beyond functional product requirements to help these customers meet their sustainability goals and objectives. Pixelle’s release liner recycling program is a prime example. Designed to reduce the amount of silicone paper that goes to landfills or gets incinerated, the program consolidates used release liner from customers and sends it to a recycler that de-siliconizes it. The clean fiber is then returned to Pixelle for use in new liner products.

“We understand that Pixelle has a role to play in advancing a circular, more sustainable economy,” says Dickerhoof. “Using recycled content in our products can have an important environmental impact on the overall life cycle of these products. Our goal is to develop and create new products that maximize that impact and align with the sustainability commitments of our converter and brand partners.”

In response to increasing consumer demand for more sustainable packaging and an end to single-use plastics, another focus area at Pixelle is the development of barrier coating technologies for packaging papers and other applications that deliver desired performance characteristics without the use of plastics and PFAS chemicals.

Pixelle works to understand barrier requirements on a case-by-case basis and tailors solutions that meet overall structural needs, but also focuses on end-of-life and eco-friendly design that eliminates the need for “regrettable substitutes.”

“There are many applications where plastic is not the only viable option,” says Pixelle Vice President of Specialty Papers Bob Van Helden. “For Pixelle, problematic plastics are a focus for resolution. We’re collaborating and partnering with brand owners and converters, looking at historical packaging applications and discovering fiber alternatives to problematic substrates and raw materials.”

For more information about Pixelle Specialty Solutions, visit www.pixelle.com.

For more information on the benefits of Two Sides membership, click here.

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.


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/

Member Spotlight

From its humble beginnings more than 78 years ago, Case Paper has grown to be one of the largest paper merchants and converters in the United States. Even though their products, partnerships and capabilities have changed over the years, their commitment to going above and beyond for their customers, or as they say, “being On the Case,” has never wavered.

Headquartered just outside New York City in Harrison, New York, the company has locations in California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and recently acquired a new lamination and coating business in Indiana, Case Makes.  Case Paper combines its distribution infrastructure and wide-ranging inventory of paper and board stock with the right equipment and the know-how of a great team to deliver the products their customers need, when they need them.

When it comes to sustainability, Case believes they have both opportunities and obligations to take actions that positively affect our planet. “If we don’t protect our environment we won’t have paper, and we can’t take action without engaging all of our people,” says company President Simon Schaffer-Goldman. “By engaging our employees in initiatives to source our products responsibly, help reduce waste and energy consumption, and strengthen the communities where we operate, we are able to play our part in creating a better world today and for generations to come.”

Case is proud to source 100% of its paper from third-party certified mills (FSC, SFI and PEFC), and offers many paper and board grades with recycled content, including, Primalith™, Sunshine™ Plus, and Coated Recycled Board.  In addition, they are actively testing sustainable laminate options and offering recyclable, repulpable and plastic-free solutions from Case Makes, such as their Transfer Metallized product.

The company is also making strides in terms of energy efficiency by installing solar panels to help power their Chicago facility.

Case also has a strict waste recovery process at all of their facilities. By custom converting special sheet sizes for customers, Case minimizes unnecessary paper waste. They also recycle roll cores and a portion of their wooden pallets, even repurposing some into scratching posts for cats. They like to say they are “just doing their part to be on the right side of hiss-tory!”

This type of lighthearted humor is a hallmark of Case Paper’s communication with their stakeholders, from their pun-packed website to their colorful and character-filled social media content.

“We like to have fun, sharing a lot of ridiculously humorous things on our social platforms,”  Schaffer-Goldman says. “But we are also ‘On the Case’ to share important and valuable information with our networks. We are proud to be a member of Two Sides, which allows us access to the amazing sustainability information and research that the organization has to offer. This way, we at Case are aligned with the facts and our followers can be too.”

For more information about Case Paper, please visit www.casepaper.com.


Follow Case Paper:

On LinkedIn:    @ company/case-paper-company/

On Facebook:  @casepapercompany

On Instagram: @casepaperco

To learn more about the benefits of Two Sides membership, please click here or download our Membership brochure


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.


What Consumers Don’t Know About the Sustainability of Paper Products

New Two Sides Survey Shows U.S. Consumers Underestimate Print and Paper Products’ Unique Contributions to a Circular Economy 

Download the press release here.

CHICAGO – April 22, 2021 – As U.S. consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of the products they use every day, there remains a wide gap between perception and reality when it comes to the sustainability of paper products. This according to a new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by global research firm Toluna.  The survey, “Paper’s Place in a Post-Pandemic World,” sought to explore and better understand consumer perceptions, behaviors and preferences related to the sustainability of paper products.

“More and more consumers are factoring environmental impacts into their purchasing decisions, but all too often those decisions are based on pop culture myths and sensational, headline-driven journalism rather than fact,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “As attention turns to developing a more sustainable, circular economy, the paper and paper-based packaging industry has a great, fact-based environmental story to tell: Paper is one the few products that can already claim to have a truly circular life cycle.”

What’s happening to the size of U.S. forest area?

Paper use is often blamed for forest loss, and 60% of those surveyed believe U.S. forests are shrinking. The fact: U.S. forest area grew by 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment. That’s an area equivalent to 1,200 NFL football fields every day. Contrary to the popular belief that manufacturing and using paper destroys forests, the demand for sustainably sourced paper and paper-based packaging creates a powerful financial incentive for landowners not only to manage and harvest their land responsibly, but also to keep it forested rather than converting it to non-forest uses, one of the real documented causes of forest loss.

What percentage of paper is recycled?

Paper recycling in the United States is a hands down environmental success story. But according to the survey, only 11% of consumers believe the U.S. recycling rate exceeds 60% and nearly a quarter believe it’s less that 20%.  The fact: More than two-thirds of all paper and paper-based packaging in the U.S. is recycled, and more than 90% of corrugated cardboard boxes is recycled according to the American Forest and Paper Association. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that paper is the most recycled material in the country, compared to plastics at 8.4%, glass at 26.6% and metals at 33.3%.

Is electronic communication more environmentally friendly than paper-based communication?

As the pandemic forced meetings, events and day-to-day business to online communication and consumers increasingly relied on the internet for news and information, 67% of those surveyed believe that electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than paper-based communication. While consumers enjoy the convenience and the ability to work from home that electronic communication affords, they overlook the environmental impact of digital communication.

The facts: The EPA reports that the pulp and paper industry accounts for only 1.2% of U.S. industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and only 0.5% of total U.S. GHG emissions – which shouldn’t be surprising since two-thirds of the energy used to power U.S. paper industry operations is generated using renewable, carbon neutral biomass. In contrast, the energy consumption required for digital technologies is increasing 9% each year, and the share of digital technology in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could rise to 8% by 2025 according to The Shift Project, a carbon transition think tank.  And compared to paper’s recycling success story, the United States generates approximately 7 million metric tons of e-waste annually, but only 15% of that waste is recycled, according to the 2020 Global E-waste Monitor.

“The life cycle of paper products is circular by nature,” Rowzie explains. “The raw material used to make it is perpetually regrown, the energy used to manufacture it is generated using mostly carbon-neutral biofuel, and the circle is completed as used paper is recycled into new products at a higher rate than any other material.  Even so, our survey shows that misconceptions about the sustainability of paper products are commonplace. It’s just these types of misconceptions that Two Sides was created to correct.  We believe consumers have the right to make purchasing choices based on data and hard facts, free from pop mythology and misinformation.”

For more facts about the environmental sustainability of paper and paper-based packaging, visit www.twosidesna.org.

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