Submitted: The Two Sides Team April 15, 2013
April 15, 2013
Shortly after its beginnings in 2008, Two Sides launched a campaign in the UK to challenge negative environmental claims about print and paper being made by many companies in order to promote electronic statements (ex: e-billing). You’ve all seen them: Go green – Go paperless. Save trees.
Two Sides made this a focused initiative with a strategic approach to get the claims removed or changed. The reasoning behind this is:
The “go green – go paperless” message is damaging to the print, paper and mail value chain and millions of jobs rely on this value chain.
Print on paper has unique environmental features that many other products and materials do not.
The “saving trees” and “go- green” messages create a false impression that forests and trees are a finite resource that is being lost instead of a renewable resource being replenished based on sustainable forest management practices.
Corporations must follow best practices for environmental marketing. Claims should be based on sound and peer-reviewed scientific evidence (ex: CSR Europe guidelines, UK CAP, US FTC Green Guides and ISO14021)
The full impact of switching to e-media are often not properly considered and sometimes ignored.
The life cycle of e-statements is not paperless because many people print e-statements at home or at the office for record-keeping and other uses.
Although the process was time-demanding and required many discussions and exchanges, our success was more than what we had expected. In total, 80% of the companies (27 out of 34) we engaged changed or removed their anti-paper claims, including several large corporations.
In July 2010, we launched the same campaign in the US with a strategic approach and focus to engage the top banks, utilities and telecoms that are currently using similar environmental claims. We looked at over 100 companies and discovered that half of them are using misleading claims. We are now systematically addressing these. The “list” is growing weekly and our database now includes about 250 companies in many different sectors.
Thanks to all of you who have been sending us claims of concern. If you see one, just email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our goal is an 80% success rate in getting claims changed or removed.
We are collaborating with some member companies as well as with the AF&PA in this initiative to avoid duplication of efforts and discuss how we can best address the numerous claims being made. The PrintMediaCentr has been very supportive in spreading the message. PIA and PIASC have also greatly supported the cause by sometimes issuing their own letters and press releases to draw attention to this issue.
Progress to Date
Number of U.S. companies who have received a first letter from Two Sides 46
Number of additional cases that Two Sides has referred to member companies and allies 9
Total cases to date 54
Number of companies who have removed their anti-paper environmental claims 7
Success rate 13%
Number of companies who have responded to Two Sides 16
Number of companies that Two Sides has had (or is having) discussions with 11
Number of companies who have not yet responded 32
Our current success rate is only 13%…but the night is young!
First, we would like to thank to the companies who have taken the time to listen to us, those that are currently working with us, and those that have corrected their claims.
We are now in the process of sending a second letter to companies who have not responded and to those who have decided to keep their existing environmental claims. The letter lists specific actions that Two Sides will take in the near future to draw attention to these companies.
Our view is that misleading environmental claims about print and paper products require a strong response due to the potential damage to the paper, print, publishing and mail value chain which supports 8.4 million U.S. jobs and generates $1.139 trillion in sales revenue (1).
Phil Riebel, President and COO, Two Sides US, Inc.
1 – Direct Communications Group, 2010. The EMA Job Study. www.envelope.org