Two Sides forcing halt to greenwashing

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Two Sides, a global industry campaign promoting the environmental credentials of paper and print, has successfully challenged 880 organisations sending greenwashing messages to customers, calling out the misrepresentation in this space.

The campaign is calling out the misrepresentation of the environmental credentials of paper, print and mail. It says that many of these claims are unsubstantiated by fact, and are more to save the company money, rather than save the environment. 

Over the past 12 months the campaign says it has seen an increase in banks, telcos, utility companies and government organisations claiming that paper bills and statements are bad for the environment. 

“Greenwashing in Australia is hugely damaging to an industry which has a very strong environmental record, and is in breach of the ACCC guidelines,” said Kellie Northwood, Two Sides’ ANZ manager. 

“Far from saving trees, paper is a renewable resource from working forests, which are planted and harvested, encouraging the long-term growth of forests through sustainable and biodiverse forest management. 

“Many of the organisations we engage are surprised to learn that our planted forests have doubled in size from one million to two million hectares, and this number is growing.” 

Working forests: paper 

Globally, Two Sides has engaged 1900 organisations which it says are making misleading statements about paper, with 880 of them having removed greenwashing statements from their communications.

Two Sides continues to engage and inform the remaining organisations, lobbying for a change in messaging, and calling on the government to monitor misrepresentation.

The organisations who have corrected their claims are located throughout Australia and New Zealand, Europe, North and South America.

“It remains vital that greenwash is challenged to ensure that the industry’s great environmental record is represented accurately, and that the livelihoods of Australians are not damaged by the spread of misleading marketing messages,” Northwood explained.

Kellie Northwood, Two Sides’ ANZ manager.
Kellie Northwood: Two Sides’ ANZ manager

“Paper is renewable, recyclable, and an important part of our social inclusivity in an increasingly digitally divided country.

“Because of the huge reach of some of these greenwashing organisations, their unsubstantiated claims can have a detrimental effect on consumer perceptions of paper, and threaten a sector that employs 258,000 Australians across 4700 companies, of which 94 per cent are small businesses.” 

According to Two Sides, the financial impact of greenwash on the paper, print and mailing industry is of global concern if these messages continue without challenge. 

In fact, recent research conducted by Two Sides and Toluna in 2021 found that greenwashing threatens the loss of €337 million of value annually to the paper, print and mailing industry. 

The Anti-Greenwash Campaign continues to be a priority for Two Sides, which is planning to launch a broader consumer campaign promoting the societal and environmental credentials of paper and print. 

“We are grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of organisations that have changed or eliminated greenwashing claims from their messaging, and we are also thankful for the many industry stakeholders and members of the public who send examples of greenwashing,” Northwood concluded. 

“We will continue to challenge the misrepresentation and call on any companies making these claims to reconsider your approach.”

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