Archive for April, 2013

What better way to emphasize the value of print and paper?  Advertise in a popular digital magazine!

This also reinforces our Two Sides position that print and digital media can co-exist and have many synergies.

Inc. magazine’s digital edition recently featured this ad – one of several designed for the Two Sides No Wonder You Love Paper ad campaign.  Created to reinforce printed magazines and newspapers as an appealing and sustainable way to read, the ads feature people enjoying magazines for education, business, play and relaxation in their daily lives.

The campaign also features a companion consumer website, http://www.youlovepaper.info/US/ with fun activities like the Environmental Guru Quiz and a video contest.  There’s also a downloadable Paper Myths and Facts brochure and a short, animated video on U.S. forest and paper facts.

Two Sides is seeking free advertising space in U.S. newspapers and magazines to appear over the next year, so be on the lookout for more to come!  Any publication interested in donating ad space should contact Phil Riebel at pnr@twosides.us or (855) 896-7433 (toll free).

IMG_2377 (773x1024) IMG_2376 (833x1024)

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I am ticked off at my bank, utilities and telecom providers for saying “go green – go paperless.”

I’ve had it with my bank and all the other companies that are bashing paper products to promote electronic billing, statements and other e-services.  Yes…I’ve finally lost it.

I have decided to be diplomatic and not name you…but we all know who you are.millions

To my bank and other providers out there who are doing this:

You are damaging my livelihood and you are misleading people with greenwashing so that you can cut costs.  Please be honest.

I am your customer and I have spent the last 25 years of my life working in the forest and paper industry.  This industry has allowed me to lead a good life, raise a great family together with my wife, and provide a good education for my children.

My youngest son standing on a beaver dam on our forestland. This was taken during a weekend exploration trip several years ago. He's 17 now and graduating from high school in a few months.

My youngest son standing on a beaver dam on our forest property. This was taken during a weekend adventure several years ago. He’s 17 now and graduating from high school in a few months.

I buy your products and services: banking services, cell phones, TV services, electric and water services.  I spend my money to make you more profitable – money that comes from the pulp and paper industry.

Not only are the green claims making me upset, it makes many of your other customers upset as well.  In fact, millions of them.

It may come as a surprise to you but 8.4 million Americans make a living in the print, paper and mail value chain that generates 1.3 trillion in revenues (EMA 2012 Job Study).  I bet you’re getting a lot of this money in your coffers.

About 10 million Americans own private forestland (US Forest Service) and many of them rely on the income from their properties to make a living (ex: lumber for construction and pulp used for papermaking – yes PAPER).

I am one of those forest owners.  My family owns 200 acres of woodlands and we manage it responsibly for economic and recreational benefits as well as biodiversity.

How do you think I and the millions of other family forest owners feel about your “save a tree” claims?  I think they are very misleading because I believe we are the ones saving forests for the long-term by managing them responsibly and making sure our society can benefit from forest products (like paper) that are highly renewable, highly recyclable and store carbon for their useful life.  These inherent environmental features make paper quite a sustainable product compared to all the other things that surround us, including electronics.

Most of us are well aware of the massive infrastructure and environmental impacts of electronic media that you forget to mention in your green claims.

All products and services have pros and cons.  To bash one product in favor of another is an easy game to play when you have no verifiable facts or evidence that consider all the economic, social and environmental benefits of our forest resource and products like paper.  I believe your green claims fall short of many rules and guidelines for environmental marketing.

Paper and electronic can happily co-exist and I need both…so do most other people I know.  I use e-billing and on-line banking regularly, but I need a paper copy to remind me to pay the bills.  I also keep the paper copy, or print the e-statements for accounting and record-keeping.  It’s more secure and won’t get lost.

All my paper gets printed on both sides and gets recycled.  I also buy paper that has been made with fiber from forests certified to the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Paper is far from being a “bad” product as your marketing suggests.  I believe that the majority of people see paper as a sustainable way to communicate as long as it is produced and used responsibly, including recycling it.

It’s time to gather your marketing team in a room and tell them to stop greenwashing the millions of people who earn a living from the print, paper, mail and forestry value chain.  Please focus your message on the true benefits of e-media: speed, convenience and maybe a few others.

Remember…we are your customers and most of us care about the environment just as much as you do.

Now it’s time for me to shut down my computer and cell phone for the day and go for a walk in the forest.  Happy Earth Day!

Phil Riebel
Family Forest Owner and Proud Paper Supporter

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Shortly after its beginnings in 2008, Two Sides launched a campaign in the UK to challenge negative environmental claims about print and paper being made by many companies in order to promote electronic statements (ex: e-billing).  You’ve all seen them: Go green – Go paperless.  Go GreenSave trees.

Two Sides made this a focused initiative with a strategic approach to get the claims removed or changed.  The reasoning behind this is:

  • The “go green – go paperless” message is damaging to the print, paper and mail value chain and millions of jobs rely on this value chain.
  • Print on paper has unique environmental features that many other products and materials do not.
  • The “saving trees” and “go- green” messages create a false impression that forests and trees are a finite resource that is being lost instead of a renewable resource being replenished based on sustainable forest management practices.
  • Corporations must follow best practices for environmental marketing.  Claims should be based on sound and peer-reviewed scientific evidence (ex: CSR Europe guidelines, UK CAP, US FTC Green Guides and ISO14021)
  • The full impact of switching to e-media are often not properly considered and sometimes ignored.
  • The life cycle of e-statements is not paperless because many people print e-statements at home or at the office for record-keeping and other uses.

Although the process was time-demanding and required many discussions and exchanges, our success was more than what we had expected.  In total, 80% of the companies (27 out of 34) we engaged changed or removed their anti-paper claims, including several large corporations.

In July 2010, we launched the same campaign in the US with a strategic approach and focus to engage the top banks, utilities and telecoms that are currently using similar environmental claims.  We looked at over 100 companies and discovered that half of them are using misleading claims.  We are now systematically addressing these.  The “list” is growing weekly and our database now includes about 250 companies in many different sectors.

Thanks to all of you who have been sending us claims of concern.  If you see one, just email it to us at inquiries@twosides.us

Our goal is an 80% success rate in getting claims changed or removed.

We are collaborating  with some member companies as well as with the AF&PA in this initiative to avoid duplication of efforts and discuss how we can best address the numerous claims being made.  The PrintMediaCentr has been very supportive in spreading the message.  PIA and PIASC have also greatly supported the cause by sometimes issuing their own letters and press releases to draw attention to this issue.

 Progress to Date

Number of U.S. companies who have received a first letter from Two Sides


Number of additional cases that Two Sides has referred to member companies and allies


Total cases to date


Number of companies who have removed their anti-paper environmental claims


Success rate


Number of companies who have responded to Two Sides


Number of companies that Two Sides has had (or is having) discussions with


Number of companies who have not yet responded


Our current success rate is only 13%…but the night is young!

First, we would like to thank to the companies who have taken the time to listen to us, those that are currently working with us, and those that have corrected their claims.

We are now in the process of sending a second letter to companies who have not responded and to those who have decided to keep their existing environmental claims.  The letter lists specific actions that Two Sides will take in the near future to draw attention to these companies.

Our view is that misleading environmental claims about print and paper products require a strong response due to the potential damage to the paper, print, publishing and mail value chain which supports 8.4 million U.S. jobs and generates $1.139 trillion in sales revenue (1).

Phil Riebel
President and COO
Two Sides US, Inc.

1 – Direct Communications Group, 2010.  The EMA Job Study. www.envelope.org

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The topic of using recycled fiber in printing papers is being discussed more actively within the Two Sides network these days due to the notion that “more recycled content in printing papers is better for the environment”.

I would add: “it depends on the situation”.  I say this because generalizing the benefits of recycled fiber use can be misleading due to the many environmental and economic factors at play in the life cycle of paper products.  In other words, wood-based paper grades can be equally or more sustainable if they are being produced responsibly.

We do need to talk about sustainability in this case because buying paper to make printed products involves both economic and environmental considerations. (1)

Recovering and recycling paper products is a good thing.  It reduces waste to landfill and extends the use of a valuable raw material.  In turn, recovered paper should be re-used as a raw material in products in the most sustainable way possible.  That may or may not include high-end printing papers (ex: catalogs and magazines).

There are industry arguments on both sides of the coin.  There are many who say that one of the most sustainable ways to use recovered paper is in lower quality grades of paper (ex: carton board, paperboard) where less processing and no de-inking is needed.  This typically also means less cost and less environmental concerns.  Others point out that high quality recovered paper (if available) should be re-used to make printing papers due to its high content of long (Kraft) fibers.  In either situation, the right conditions must be in place to make it environmentally and economically sustainable.

The environmental footprint of a grade of printing paper depends entirely on its specific life cycle (forestry practices, environmental performance of pulp and paper mills and suppliers, transportation, etc.).  In our industry, many of the environmental indicators associated with this life cycle are measured and reported in terms of emissions to air, water, soil and solid waste to landfill, among many others.  For companies committed to sustainability, tracking these indicators and improving performance is a key method used to reduce the overall environmental footprint of their paper products.

The environmental performance of the pulp and paper industry varies widely between countries, between companies and between manufacturing facilities.  This is because environmental performance depends on the use of best available technology and the commitment to sustainability of a given company or facility.

Each product life cycle is also associated with other elements such as forest biodiversity and the ecosystem services of a well-managed forest (water filtration, air purification and carbon sequestration), recreational benefits, jobs created and community spin-offs from forestry and manufacturing, the cost of de-inked pulp, paper quality considerations, the distance needed to transport recovered paper and de-inked pulp for processing, and more.

Although Life-cycle Assessment (LCA) studies can be useful tools to help understand the environmental footprint of paper products, they have limitations and they cannot consider many of the environmental and economic considerations listed above.  Results should be communicated with caution across product categories and they should not be seen as an indication of overall “sustainability”.

The two graphs below show the variability in solid waste generation from two different types of integrated printing paper mills: ones using wood-based mechanical pulp (left) and ones using de-inked pulp (right).  Each data point (squares and circles) represents a pulp and paper mill site.


The range, from low to high, is similar in both cases and it is very possible to have an integrated mechanical pulp and paper mill site with better performance than an integrated recycled mill site.  Based on industry benchmarking studies I have participated in, the same is true for other environmental indicators as well.

Another example would be an increased carbon footprint of an office paper grade due to switching from a low-carbon Kraft pulp supply to a de-inked recycled pulp supplier that relies heavily on fossil fuels.  Kraft pulp can have a relatively low carbon footprint due to low reliance on fossil fuels and use of renewable, carbon-neutral energy (biomass and black liquor).  Sappi’s most recent eQ Journal, Rethinking Recycling, also discusses this topic.

The above examples illustrate the potential risks of generalizing the benefits of using recycled fiber without looking into the environmental performance of specific paper products and manufacturers. For certain grades of paper, it can lead to over-stating the environmental benefits of one raw material (recycled fiber) over another (wood fiber) and this appears to contravene the US Federal Trade Commission Green Guides.

My point is that wood-based paper grades can have a lower environmental footprint than grades containing recycled content just because of the specific situation and life cycle that surrounds each paper grade, and vice-versa. One can also be more economical to produce than the other depending on the situation (ex: proximity and cost of fiber).

Recycled fiber and wood fiber from well-managed forests can be equally sustainable raw materials for papermaking.  If we want to evaluate environmental performance, we should be spending less time debating about which fiber type to use and more time measuring real product-specific environmental performance indicators.  Several tools, such as environmental scorecards and declarations, are available to collect specific data on companies, mill sites and paper grades (ex: Environmental Paper Assessment Tool, Paper Profile, WWF Paper Scorecard or customized scorecards).

(1) Sustainability involves three pillars: economic, environmental and social demands.  The simple definition is: “sustainability is improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems” (Wikipedia).

Additional recommended reading:

Phil Riebel
President and COO
Two Sides US, Inc.

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