Two Sides targeting local councils

Two Sides Australia will now look at greenwashing claims made by local councils, after making progress with banks and energy companies.


The country managers from Two Sides’ met for its annual worldwide meeting in London earlier this month, including representatives from Europe, North America, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.


In Australia, the paper advocacy group says it is determined to continue efforts to stop organisations making misleading, anti-print and paper messages in their customer communications, and will be looking towards false claims, and paper fees charged by local councils.


Kellie Northwood, executive director, Two Sides Australia, says, “We had a 73 per cent success rate in 2016 for getting companies to remove false greenwashing claims, and a 68 per cent success rate in 2017.


“While it sounds like it was going backwards, what we see are less instances of greenwashing. We were originally working with big banks, which have large legal departments and understand the consequences of misleading advertising, and now are moving towards small businesses, which take longer to convince.


“Moving forward, the biggest group we are now targeting is local government, and councils. We have noticed that local governments have introduced fees for paper billing, so we are building a campaign to go after them, and will ask our members to start writing to their local members.


“At the global meeting, we discussed with other country managers a tendency for banks to take away the claims, only to reintroduce them again. We need to keep reminding them that paper has a great environmental story, and keep pushing.”


Since its inception, Two Sides’ anti-greenwash campaign has investigated 921 organisations worldwide. Of these, over two-thirds were found to be using unsubstantiated claims regarding paper’s impact on the environment, usually in breach of local advertising regulations. After being challenged by Two Sides, 335 organisations removed or changed their messaging.


Northwood says, “Common consumer misconceptions about print and paper are being reinforced by service providers as they increasingly encourage their customers to switch to electronic bills, statements and correspondence. The incentive to switch is often based on unfounded environmental claims such as ‘Go Green – Go Paperless’ and ‘Choose e-billing and help save a tree.’


“Not only are these claims misleading, but the drive to digital is not without environmental impacts and also not welcomed by many consumers.”


In a survey commissioned Two Sides, over 10,000 consumers around the globe were asked about their preferences for print, with 89 per cent believing they have a right to choose how they receive communications, and 77 per cent believing they should not be charged more for choosing paper.

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