Over 440 companies worldwide remove misleading “Go Green – Go Paperless” messaging

With encouragement and hard facts from Two Sides North America, a global non-profit organization promoting the sustainability of print and paper, over 440 companies across the globe have now agreed to remove their misleading environmental claims. Environmental claims such as “go green – go paperless” and “save trees” are regularly used by banks, telecoms, utilities, insurance companies and many other service providers, as they encourage their customers to switch from paper to lower-cost electronic bills and statements. However, a Two Sides global “anti-greenwash” campaign operating since 2010 has found that the majority of these claims are unsubstantiated and misleading.

Phil Riebel.

In North America, 120 companies, including many of the Fortune 500, have changed or removed their environmental claims following discussions with Two Sides. “Environmental claims in the U.S. and Canada must meet the guidelines and rules of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Competition Bureau of Canada – which include having credible and specific science-based facts to support claims,” said Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America. “Unfortunately, we’ve found that these requirements are rarely met and corporations use “go green’ claims purely for marketing and enticing more customers to digital options. Companies are also ignoring the growing environmental footprint of their electronic infra-structure, including the use of non-renewable resources, energy and the large amounts of e-waste generated,” he pointed out.

Martyn Eustace.

Martyn Eustace, Chairman of Two Sides Europe/UK, added: “We’re really pleased that our ongoing efforts are having such a significant effect on some of the world’s largest and most influential companies and organizations. However, our latest research shows that misleading environmental messages are still having an impact on consumer perceptions of print and paper – particularly regarding their impact on forests. This is why it’s so vital for Two Sides to continue working with organizations to remove greenwashing claims and educate them about the unique sustainable aspects of print and paper. Paper comes from a renewable resource and is one of the most recycled materials in the world. When responsibly produced and used, it can be a sustainable way to communicate.”

Drive to digital is not popular with many consumers

Recent research commissioned by Two Sides has shown that consumers feel strongly about their choice to receive paper bills and statements from service providers. In fact, efforts by major corporations to force their customers to go digital, often citing environmental benefits, are not welcomed by many consumers. An international survey of 1,044 consumers in Canada and 2,094 consumers in the U.S., commissioned by Two Sides in February of 2019, revealed that:

  • 82% of Canadian respondents and 86% of U.S. respondents believe they have the right to choose how they receive their communications (printed or electronically) from financial organizations and service providers.
  • 58% of Canadian respondents and 61% of U.S. respondents think claims about the switch to digital being “better for the environment” are made primarily because the sender wants to save money.
  • 34% of Canadian respondents and 45% of U.S. respondents would consider switching service providers if they were forced to go paperless.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.