The results of a new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America (Chicago, Illinois) has revealed key insights into the public’s perceptions and attitudes towards print and paper across Canada and the U.S. Carried out by independent research company Toluna, consumers from across Canada (1,044) and the U.S. (2,094) were surveyed on environmental topics and preferences relating to paper and print. It was clear from the survey that consumers are concerned about the environment, but there are some obvious gaps between consumers’ environmental perceptions and the real facts. This is particularly evident for questions related to forest management and recycling, said the organization. Two key findings included:
- 58% of U.S. consumers surveyed believe U.S. forests have been decreasing in size since the year 2000. In fact, U.S. forests had a net growth of over 1,500 NFL football fields per day since 2000.
- Only 15% of Americans and 21% of Canadians think the paper recovery rate exceeds 60% – when it’s actually over 68% in the U.S and 70% in Canada.
Out of 6 choices, Americans and Canadians rank urban development (first), construction (second) and pulp and paper (third) as having the most impact on global deforestation. Agriculture was ranked as having the least impact. However, agriculture is the top cause of global deforestation and, in most developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada, pulp and paper is not a cause of forest loss – due to government regulations, sustainable forestry practices and forest certification programs., said Two Sides.
When it comes to paper purchasing behaviour, 70% of Canadians and Amercians believe it’s important to use paper products from sustainably-managed forests. However, only 22% to 27% pay attention to forest certification labels when purchasing paper. Out of 8 common materials and products, wood is considered the most environmentally friendly material, followed by paper and glass. Plastic and electronic devices are considered the least environmentally friendly.
Reading preferences – books, magazines and newspapers. When it comes to reading books, magazines and newspapers, print is definitely preferred over digital.
- 68% of Canadians and Americans believe print is the most enjoyable way to read books.
- 59% of Canadians and 65% of Americans prefer to read magazines in print.
- 49% of Canadians and 53% of Americans prefer to read newspapers in print.
Further to print being the preferred medium for reading, the digital push by many corporate service providers (i.e. banks, telecoms, utilities and insurance companies) appears to be unpopular with many consumers. For example, 82% of Canadians and 86% of Americans believe they should have the right to choose how they receive their communications (electronically or printed) and a further 66% (Canada) to 74% (U.S.) agree they should not be charged to receive paper statements.
More education needed. “It’s great to see that print as a communications medium is still preferred by many consumers,” said Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America. “Clearly, people also recognize the sustainable features of paper when compared to many other products – especially electronics and plastics. However, there’s a need to educate consumers on sustainable forestry practices, the real causes of deforestation, and the great recycling story of print and paper,” he added.