Over 20 Leading U.S. Companies Remove their “Go green, Go Paperless” Claims

Over 20 leading U.S. companies have removed their “anti-paper” green claims, used to promote electronic billing and other e-services as a more environmentally-friendly solution than paper. These companies are primarily top Fortune 500 organizations in the banking, utilities and telecommunications sectors.

The removals follows on an educational campaign by Two Sides U.S. to correct greenwashing related to print and paper products. Two Sides is an initiative by companies working in forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, printing, publishing and direct mail. Thought, you might want to know.

Why Two Sides is challenging the “Go Green” claim

Two Sides lists the main reasons for challenging the claims as follows:

  • Unsubstantiated marketing claims like “Go green, Go Paperless” and “Go Paperless, Save Trees” do not meet guidelines for environmental marketing established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Print on paper made in the U.S. has many unique environmental characteristics compared to other products. It originates from a renewable resource – trees grown in responsibly managed forests, is recyclable and is the most recycled commodity in the U.S. with a recovery rate of over 65 percent in 2012 (America Paper & Forest Association, 2013).
  • Marketing messages like “save trees” create a false impression that forests are a finite resource that is being destroyed instead of a renewable resource that is continuously replenished using sustainable forest management practices. In the U.S., we grow more trees than we harvest. Over the last 50 years, the volume of trees growing on U.S. forestland increased 49 percent (Society of American Foresters, 2007).
  • The full impact of switching to e-media is often not properly considered and sometimes completely ignored. The direct impact of information and communication technology (ICT) products and services replacing paper is far from negligible, and the trade-off between the two “technologies” depends on conditions such as use frequency, source of energy and end-of-life management of the products (Arnfalk, P. 2010).
  • The claims are damaging to the U.S. economy and threaten U.S. jobs. A total of 8.4 million jobs (6 percent of total U.S. jobs) that generate $1.3 trillion in sales revenue (8.6 percent of U.S. gross domestic product) depend on the U.S. mailing industry, which includes paper production, printing production, related suppliers, graphic design and the handling and distribution of mail (EMA Job Study, 2012).
  • The life cycle of e-statements is often not paperless because many people print e-statements at home or at the office for record keeping and other uses (Two Sides & Toluna, 2013).



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