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Two Sides global campaign reports increasing greenwashing as organisations focus on sustainability


Two Sides has challenged over 2650 organisations found to be communicating greenwashing messages to their customers. Over 1180 organisations have, so far, removed misleading anti paper statements. 

 

Economic pressures remain the driver for much of greenwashing, and many organisations that have relied on paper to communicate with their customers are increasingly transitioning their customers from traditional paper based services to digital platforms in a bid to reduce costs. The switch to digital is often justified by misleading and unsubstantiated environmental marketing messages such as: ‘Go Green – Go Paperless’ or ‘Choose e-billing and help save a tree’ - but this is just greenwashing. 

 

Consumer preferences are being ignored in the digital switch. Data from the 2023 Two Sides 'Trend Tracker' report revealed that 55% of European consumers believe environmental arguments from companies to switch to digital communications are misleading and are about reducing costs. Furthermore, the research was clear that 76% want the choice and do not want to be forced to digital communications. 

 

With increasing focus on corporate sustainability other sectors, such as tissue and paper based packaging, now experience greenwashing with misleading and unsubstantiated marketing of products which claim to be more sustainable for many reasons including new and alternative sources of fibre. 

 


Two Sides Europe managing director Jonathan Tame said, ‘These greenwash claims not only violate established environmental marketing regulations but they are hugely damaging for an industry known for its strong and consistently progressive 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 challenge are surprised to learn that European forests have actually been growing by 1500 football pitches every day.’ 

 

Globally, Two Sides has engaged over 2650 organisations making misleading statements about paper. In Europe, to date, 749 companies have removed unsubstantiated claims about paper, including AXA Insurance plc, Calor Gas, O2 Telefonica, Menton, Bredband 2 and Citygross, to name a few. 

 

‘It remains vital that these misleading messages are challenged to ensure that the industry’s great environmental record is recognised and that the livelihoods of thousands of industry employees are not damaged by the spread of misleading and opportunistic greenwash marketing,’ Jonathan said.

 

Two Sides estimates that, due to the vast reach of some of these organisations, unsubstantiated claims have a long lasting damaging effect on consumer perceptions of paper and threatens a sector that employs over 640,000 people in more than 112,000 European businesses. The financial impact of greenwashing is also of global concern if these messages continue without challenge. Research conducted by Two Sides and Censuswide in 2021, found that in the European mailing and postal sector alone, greenwashing threatens the loss of €337 million of value annually to the industry.

 

The anti-greenwash campaign continues to be a priority for Two Sides, and continues to urge companies not to use unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about going paperless in all of their communications. 

 

‘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 Two Sides examples of greenwash,’ Jonathan concluded. 

 

Please send any instances of greenwash to greenwash@twosides.info

 

 

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