Two Sides Global Campaign Reports Increasing Greenwashing As Organisations Focus On Sustainability

Two Sides Global Campaign Reports Increasing Greenwashing As Organisations Focus On Sustainability
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Two Sides has challenged over 2,650 organisations found to be communicating greenwashing messages to their customers. Over 1,180 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 Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) ‘Greenwashing by businesses in Australia 2023’ reported that 57% of businesses that were examined raised concerns of using vague or unclear environmental claims, not providing sufficient evidence for their claims, setting environmental goals without clear plans on how these will be achieved, and using third-party certifications and symbols in a confusing way.

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.

“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 Australia alone has two million hectares of working forests and growing. That equates to over 1,000,000 MCGs in land cover,” said Two Sides Australia & New Zealand manager Kellie Northwood.

Globally, Two Sides has engaged over 2,650 organisations making misleading statements about paper. In Australia, since 2020, companies have removed unsubstantiated claims about paper, including telcos, schools, councils, retail, and insurance organisations 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,” Northwood 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 threaten a sector that employs 229,194 people.

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 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,” Northwood concludes.

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