Two Sides Report Illustrates Perceptions Of Print And Paper

Two Sides Report Illustrates Perceptions Of Print And Paper

According to Jonathan Tame, Managing Director of Two Sides Europe, Two Sides’ latest study shows that there are many environmental misconceptions surrounding print and paper products.

Two Sides’ latest study ‘Paper’s Place in a Post-Pandemic World’ aims to understand changing consumer perceptions towards print, paper, paper packaging and tissue products. This unique insight into consumer attitudes towards one of the world’s oldest and universally used materials will be repeated biennially to monitor and report upon evolving consumer perceptions as environmental awareness intensifies and alternative digital channels of communication become prevalent.

Results of the 2021 study show that while paper retains its place as a vital communication and packaging materials, there remain misconceptions about the environmental impact of the paper industry.

Consumers are not aware that European forests are growing

The study found that consumers still believe forests are decreasing in size, with 59% of UK consumers believing that European forests are shrinking. In reality, between 2005 and 2020, European forests grew by an impressive 58,390 square kilometres – an area larger than Switzerland and equivalent to 1500 football pitches of forest growth every day (FAO, 2020). Other findings from the survey relating to forest growth include:

• Just 9% of UK consumers understand that European forests are growing.
• 18-24 year olds (Gen Z) have the highest belief that forests are shrinking (69%).
• Although more people believe forests are growing (9% compared to 4% in 2013), there is still a significant gap in understanding.

The high recycling rates for paper and paper packaging are not appreciated

Another common misconception about the paper industry is the amount of paper that is recycled. The survey found that just 17% of UK consumers believe the paper recycling rate exceeds 60%. Furthermore, 46% believe that paper and paper packaging is wasteful. In reality, Europe’s paper recycling rate is currently 72%, with paper packaging even higher at 84% (Cepi, 2019).

• In 2019, a total of 57.5 million tonnes of paper was collected and recycled in Europe.
• 18-24 year olds have the biggest misconception relating to recycling, with just 12% believing the paper recycling rate exceeds 60%.
• 66% of consumers think only recycled paper should be used.

Paper vs electronic communication

The past year has accelerated the growth of electronic communication, with meetings, events and day-to-day business increasingly being conducted online and consumers relying more on online news. While convenience and the ability for people to work at home are undoubtedly key drivers in this shift, the environmental impact of digital communications is often overlooked.

Paper and print products are among the lowest greenhouse gas emitters at 0.8%, whereas the ICT industry accounts for 2.5-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this is predicted to rise to 14% by 2040 (Belkhir L & Elmeligi A, 2018). Despite this, 66% of consumers surveyed in the report think electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than paper communication.


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