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Two Sides works with companies to remove ‘greenwash’ messaging against paper


July 18, 2019
By P&PC Staff

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July 18, 2019 – Paper advocacy group Two Sides says it has worked with over 400 companies around the world to remove environmental claims such as “go green – go paperless” and “save trees” from their messaging. 

Two Sides says these kinds of claims are frequently 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.

A Two Sides global “anti-greenwash” campaign operating since 2010 has found that the majority of these claims are unsubstantiated and misleading.

To date, Two Sides has successfully engaged with 441 companies worldwide to remove or change such claims about print and paper. 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 US Federal Trade Commission and the Competition Bureau of Canada, which include having credible and specific science-based facts to support claims,” says Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America, in a release. “Unfortunately, we have 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 infrastructure, including the use of non-renewable resources, energy and the large amounts of e-waste generated.”

Martyn Eustace, chairman of Two Sides Europe/UK, says, “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.”

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 welcome by many consumers.

An international survey of 2,094 consumers in the US and 1,044 consumers in Canada commissioned by Two Sides in February 2019 found:

  • 86 per cent of US respondents and 82 per cent of Canadian respondents believe they have the right to choose how they receive their communications (printed or electronically) from financial organizations and service providers.
  • 66 per cent of US respondents and 63 per cent of Canadian respondents don’t agree that corporations are really going paperless because they regularly need to print out documents at home if they want a hard copy.
  • 61 per cent of U.S. respondents and 58 per cent of Canadian respondents think claims about the switch to digital being “better for the environment” are made primarily because the sender wants to save money.
  • 45 per cent of U.S. respondents and 34 per cent of Canadian respondents would consider switching service providers if they were forced to go paperless.