Two Sides North America today announced that it has registered a greenwashing complaint with GoPaperless Solutions for the use of unsubstantiated environmental marketing claims that Two Sides believes are misleading consumers about the environmental attributes of print and paper.
GoPaperless Solutions marketing messages urge consumers to switch to electronic services with the implication that this is more environmentally responsible than print and paper. The company's message includes text such as:
- "...a unique mobile computing solution allows businesses and individuals to be mobile, to be green and go paperless."
- "Our software solutions are environmentally friendly and eliminates the need for paper based solutions. This saves trees, protects our environment, and allows you to be more productive by saving time and money with every transaction executed."
- "...delivering the latest in total paper-free computing business solutions backed by leading edge service and support with our global ecosystem in mind."
In addition, the company's "Green Commitment" (http://gopaperless.com/green-commitment) makes several claims about the environmental impacts of paper without considering the environmental impacts of switching to electronic communications, and without verifiable studies which are specific to their business.
Two Sides believes that, without sound scientific evidence to support these claims, GoPaperless Solutions is not following environmental marketing best practices as outlined in the US FTC Green Guides and the ISO 14021 standard.
"We understand this is a complicated issue and most companies aren't aware of the actual facts about the sustainability of print and paper because so many myths exist," says Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America. To help resolve this issue Two Sides launched a campaign in 2012 which encourages leading companies to use best practices when making environmental claims to promote electronic services and billing over paper based communications. To date, over 30 leading corporations, including several major banks, utilities and telecoms, have removed their "anti-paper" environmental claims as a result of discussions with Two Sides. Earlier this year, the campaign was featured in an article by The Guardian titled "Is Digital Greener than Paper?"
Two Sides will be using social media to encourage GoPaperless Solutions to remove their anti-paper messaging, by providing facts about the sustainability of print and paper. To help, please connect with Two Sides on Twitter (https://twitter.com/twosidesna) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/twosidesnorthamerica), share our myth-busting information through your channels, and directly with GoPaperless on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GoPaperlessSolutions), Twitter (https://twitter.com/go_paperless) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/goPaperlessSolutions). You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To create a broader awareness of misleading "go paperless" information, Two Sides NA will be incorporating the hashtag #greenwashing to relevant Tweets, and we invite you to follow along and do the same.
"Broad and unverified claims suggesting that switching from paper to electronic communications is more environmentally responsible not only mislead consumers, but also threaten the livelihoods of more than 8.4 million people in the print, paper and mailing industries whose jobs depend on paper-based communications," Riebel says. "If companies like GoPaperless Solutions want to encourage the use of electronic services to promote the convenience of e-communications, that's their choice. But playing on consumers' desire to be environmentally responsible without sound scientific backup puts many jobs at risk and serves to further erode confidence in all green marketing claims, including the ones that represent real environmental value."
About Two Sides
Two Sides is an independent, non-profit organization created to promote the sustainability of print and paper. Two Sides is active globally in North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, Brazil and Colombia. Our members span the entire print and paper value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators.