Submitted by: Matthew Robson February 1, 2021
Two Sides Anti-Greenwash campaign: 710 companies removed misleading anti-paper statements
With huge pressures on the economy and efforts from industry to cut costs, increasingly banks, telecom providers, utility companies and even governmental organisations are focused on switching their customers to digital services. All too often these communications are not honest in their primary objective, cost saving, justifying these actions with sensational and unfounded environmental marketing statements such as “Go Green – Go Paperless” and “Choose e-billing and help save a tree”.
In 2020, Two Sides globally engaged 320 organisations making misleading statements about paper. So far, 134 of them have removed such statements from their communications and Two Sides continues to engage the remaining organisations. The organisations were throughout Europe, North and South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. This brings the total to 710 companies who have removed misleading greenwashing statements since the campaign begun in 2010.
In 2020, in South Africa, 3 corporates removed unsubstantiated claims about paper after interacting with Two Sides.
Deon Joubert, Country Lead, says, “Not only are these claims in breach of advertising rules, but they are hugely damaging to an industry which has a solid and continually improving environmental record. Far from ‘saving trees’, a healthy market for forest products, such as paper, encourages the long-term growth of forests through sustainable forest management. Many of the organisations we engage are always surprised to learn the surprisingly good environmental story that paper and print have to tell.”
“Greenwashing is a real issue for our sector, where we have seen a worrying increase with these current economic pressures. These negative messages threaten an industry which employs over 150 000 people in the forestry, pulp, paper, print and recycling value chain in South Africa alone. Because of the huge reach of some of these organisations, these unsubstantiated claims about paper have a damaging effect on consumer perceptions of paper. For this reason, the Anti-greenwash campaign will continue to be a priority of Two Sides and we urge companies to consider more carefully messages they convey in relation to going ‘paperless’.”
“We are grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of organisations we have worked with, worldwide, in recent years. We are also thankful for the many industry stakeholders and members of the public who send Two Sides examples of greenwash.”
Two Sides continues to actively challenge major organisations found to be misleading consumers by using environmental claims about the use of paper. Please send any instances of greenwash to matthew@ZA.twosides.info