The myth that print and paper is bad for the environment persists among consumers, according to a major consumer survey by print lobby group Two Sides.
The same survey of 6000 people across Europe also showed that print remains public's preferred platform for books, magazines and news.
Jonathon Tame, managing director of Two Sides Europe says, "There is a large gap between consumer perceptions of key environmental areas and what is indeed fact. This is particularly evident when exploring consumer awareness and understanding of forestry and recycling."
The survey revealed that 60 per cent of consumers believe European forests are shrinking, whereas the fact is that, over a 10 year period, European forests have been growing by an equivalent of 1,500 football pitches every day.
It also showed that only a fifth of those surveyed believe the paper recycling rate in Europe exceeds 60 per cent, whereas the true figure is 72 per cent.
Three quarters of consumers believe it is important to use paper products from sustainably-managed forests. However, when coming to purchase paper products, just a third of respondents pay attention to forestry certification labels indicating that products come from a sustainable source.
Two Sides says this might be explained by a lack of awareness of two of the major certification schemes: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
The survey asked respondents to rank the environmental impact of several common materials and products. Consumers believe wood to have the least environmental impact, closely followed by glass and paper. Perhaps unsurprisingly, due to the significant amount of media coverage on the topic recently, plastic is considered by consumers to have the worst impact on the environment.
In good news for print, though, a prominent trend the survey uncovered was that, when it came to reading books, magazines, and newspapers, print came out on top. Some 69 per cent believe that print is the most enjoyable way to read books, three fifths prefer to read magazines in print, while still more than half, 54 per cent, believe that print is the most enjoyable way to read a newspaper.
Further to print being the preferred medium for reading, the push to switch to digital by financial organisations and service providers has proved unpopular with many consumers. Overall 78 per cent believe they have the right to choose how they receive their communications (electronically or printed) and a further 62 per cent agree they should not be charged to receive paper statements.
Carried out by independent research company Toluna, 6,000 consumers from across Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway and Sweden and the UK) were surveyed on their environmental concerns and preferences relating to paper.