According to Two Sides, the global initiative to promote the sustainability of print and paper, major global corporations are still using inaccurate and misleading environmental claims to encourage consumers to ‘go paperless’ and switch from paper-based to digital communication. This is despite legislation being introduced by the advertising standards authorities in many countries to protect the consumer from being misled.
However, Two Sides has reported a 61% success rate in persuading global organisations to remove misleading green claims from their communications as part of its worldwide anti-greenwash campaign.
601 of the world’s leading corporations, including banks, utilities, telecoms and insurance companies have been researched and checked by Two Sides, exposing 460 of those companies to be using misleading greenwash statements in their marketing and communications activities. To date, 278 of those offending companies have removed their misleading greenwash statements as a direct result of ongoing engagement by the Two Sides initiative.
Said Martyn Eustace, chairman of Two Sides, ‘We’re really pleased that the ongoing efforts and lobbying of Two Sides is having such a significant effect on some of the world’s largest and most influential organisations. But there is no room for complacency, and there is still a great deal of work to do in tackling the remaining companies that continue to mislead their customers.’
‘It’s extremely frustrating and unacceptable,’ continued Eustace. ‘Marketers in some of the world’s most high-profile corporations are resorting to unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims to persuade consumers to switch from paper-based to cheaper electronic communication. Many consumers still have a strong preference for paper but they are being manipulated by a lack of clear and accurate information when in fact paper, based on a natural, renewable and recyclable resource, should be considered as a highly sustainable way to communicate.’
The worldwide Two Sides teams have maintained a ruthless determination to tackle greenwash in their respective countries with their ongoing activities paying dividends in the global anti-greenwash campaign.
Deon Joubert, executive director, Two Sides South Africa, added, ‘We continue to engage with corporates and government institutions regarding their environmental messaging to their customers and citizens. There remains a concern that conventional wisdom linking the use of paper to the destruction of forests remains prevalent and unchallenged. Not only are plantation trees grown to be harvested, just like any crop, these plantations provide commercial and surprisingly good environmental benefits to our world. In addition, in a recent Toluna research project conducted in South Africa, 92% of consumers want to be able to choose how they receive communication from corporates and government.'
Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America, commented, ‘Over 88 major corporations, including many of the Fortune 100, have now changed or removed misleading environmental claims about print and paper to comply with country-specific environmental marketing guidelines. Our discussions with chief marketing officers, chief sustainability officers and others, have been very productive and we are pleased with the collaboration of America’s leading organisations. Thanks to an overall better understanding of the unique sustainable features of paper products, ‘go green – go paperless’ and ‘save a tree’ claims are gradually disappearing from the marketplace.’
Kellie Northwood, executive director, Two Sides, Australia and New Zealand, commented, ‘It is our responsibility as an industry, but also as part of broader environmental education, to challenge misinformation about the impact of communication channels. Greenwashing is one of the greatest threats to being truly sustainable and we work very hard to ensure companies making the wrong claims correct their communications. Of the companies we have contacted, 73% have altered their anti-print messaging, and the remaining we continue to engage with.’
‘This year Two Sides Brazil has chosen the fight against greenwashing as a number one priority’, said Fabio Arruda Mortara, country manager for Two Sides in Brazil. 'Reaching an agreement with the Justice Tribunal of São Paulo, towards the withdrawal of the non-reliable contents of their printing manual, was probably our best achievement in 2017. Brazil has just become the second largest pulp producer in the world, which makes the challenge to clarify our position, even more important. In Brazil, the latest statistics show that net forest land area has increased substantially in the past 20 years. Everyone in the world has the right to know that print and paper are not hostile to the environment and add immense value to our civilisation.’
Isabel Riveros, executive director, Two Sides in Colombia, commented, ‘During the first year of the campaign, we were able to make the government remove any mention of ‘zero paper’ from their National Development Plan for the next four years. However, the big challenge continues. We must contact every company that is using greenwashing, and make them understand that the process of paper production is a sustainable one.’
Jonathan Tame, country manager, Two Sides UK, added, ‘We have a very active campaign to research and remove Greenwash in the UK, with a very encouraging response. 83% of all companies we have engaged with have agreed to remove misleading messages and in many cases, we have helped organisations amend their marketing communication guidelines.’