Going Paperless May Not Be Greener

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Non-profit organization Two Sides has challenged the received wisdom that “going paperless is greener” in a new infographic released to mark Earth Day on April 22.

The infographic points to a great deal of cynicism on the part of US consumers about the reasons that businesses promote the “go paperless” agenda.

More than 87% of Americans believe that the main reason companies want to shift customers to electronic delivery is to save money rather than to save the environment.

A Complex Picture

This infographic has been designed to exposed corporate “greenwashing”, or the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of the company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. Its statistics do suggest that the picture is a lot more complex than paperless simply being the greener option.

  • Paper is one of the most easily recycled products. More than 65% of paper in the USA recovered for recycling
  • Electronic documents have their own environmental footprint. This must not be ignored when making claims about which media is greener

A Green Forestry Industry

Not only does the infographic show the problems with making broad environmental claims, it also highlights the environmental benefits of having a thriving forestry industry.

  • The US grows more trees than it harvests
  • Over the last 50 years the volume of trees growing on US forestland increased by 49%
  • The forest products industry is a leader in the production of renewable energy

Without consumer demand for paper, these benefits could be seriously diminished.

See the infographic here.

A Growing Movement

Since Two Sides began its anti-greenwashing campaign in 2012 more than 170 companies, including many of the Fortune 100, have removed misleading claims about going paperless from their communications.

Two Sides is a global initiative run by companies from the Graphic Communications Industry. The goal is to promote the sustainability of this Industry and dispelling common environmental misconceptions. This initiative provides users with verifiable information on why print and paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium.