Two Sides winning greenwashing battle

Two Sides, the global initiative to promote the sustainability of print and paper, is achieving a 70 per cent success rate in persuading global organisations to remove misleading green claims from their communications as part of its worldwide anti-greenwash campaign. Those global figures are replicated in Australia, where the local organisation is challenging major corporations – telcos, financial institutes, utilities, businesses – to communicate with integrity. Greenwashing is where organisations make false or dubious claims about their environmental credentials, often based on a minimal connection with the facts. They may for instance say they want to cease sending printed communication because it is bad for the environment, a claim which is almost always untrue, while the real reason often a desire to save money. Kellie Northwood, executive director, Two Sides in Australia, says, “It can be a challenge engaging the right people within an organisation. However, when we highlight the ACCC Anti-Greenwash legislation and explain that so-called environmental statements cannot be made without evidence, corporates tend to understand the issue and amend their communications. Of the companies we have contacted 67 per cent have altered their anti-print messaging, and the remaining we continue to engage with.”

Winning: Two Sides Australia Kellie Northwood

Winning: Two Sides Australia Kellie Northwood

Some 377 of the world’s leading corporations have been researched and checked by Two Sides, exposing 240 of those companies to be using misleading greenwash statements in their marketing and communications activities. To date, 168 of those offending companies have removed their misleading greenwash statements as a direct result of ongoing lobbying by the Two Sides initiative. Martyn Eustace, chairman of Two Sides says, “We are pleased that the ongoing efforts and lobbying of Two Sides is having such a significant effect on some of the world’s largest and most influential organisations. But there is no room for complacency, and there is still a great deal of work to do tackle the remaining companies that continue to mislead their customers.” Major global corporations are still using inaccurate and misleading environmental claims to encourage consumers to ‘go paperless’ and switch from paper-based to digital communication. This is despite legislation being introduced by the advertising standards authorities in many countries to protect the consumer from being misled. “It is extremely frustrating and unacceptable,” continues Eustace. “Marketers in some of the world’s most high profile corporations are resorting to unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims to persuade consumers to switch from paper-based to cheaper electronic communication. Many consumers still have a strong preference for paper but they are being manipulated by a lack of clear and accurate information when in fact paper, based on a natural, renewable and recyclable resource, should be considered as a highly sustainable way to communicate.” The worldwide Two Sides teams say they are maintaining a ruthless determination to tackle greenwash in their respective countries with their ongoing activities paying dividends in the global anti-greenwash campaign.  

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