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TWOSIDES_1©Matthew HamsIn 2013, 72% of Americans surveyed said that print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate when produced and used responsibly (Toluna and Two Sides, 2013). This was great news and indicated that many people understand the sustainable nature of paper.

Have you ever thought about what defines a sustainable product? A bit of research on this topic shows that the key features include:

  • made from a renewable resource
  • re-usable and recyclable
  • made using renewable energy

…the exact features of forest products, like wood and paper! Here are key points to remind us of the great features of print and paper:

1- Paper supports sustainable forest management. The North American paper industry promotes sustainable forestry and depends on sustainable forest growth to provide a reliable supply of wood fiber. Paper manufacturers do this by encouraging forest sustainability through their purchase and use of certified wood fiber and by promoting sustainable forest management policies and practices. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the industry also encourages landowners to continue managing their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. Read more.

2- Sustainable forest management benefits people and the planet. Collecting used paper and recycling it into new products is good for the environment. However, the wood fibers in paper can be recycled only about five times before they get too weak and break down. That’s why we need fresh fiber harvested from responsibly managed forests, too. Using fresh fiber creates a sustainable cycle of high-quality recyclable material to continually replenish recycled fiber. Without fresh wood fiber, recycled fiber would quickly run out and most paper production would cease within months. Read more.

TWOSIDES_3©Matthew Hams3- Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. Paper is the most recycled product in the world. Since we began tracking how much paper gets recycled back in 1990, the recovery rate for used paper has increased dramatically. We’re not only recovering more, but we now know how to get the most environmental and economic benefits from using recycled paper in new products. Read more.

4- Much of the energy used in pulp and papermaking is renewable. Nearly two-thirds of the energy used by U.S. pulp and paper mills is self-generated using renewable, carbon-neutral biomass in high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) systems.   In fact, the U.S. paper and forest products industry produces and uses more renewable energy than all other industrial sectors combined. Read more.

5- The carbon footprint of paper is not as high as you think. For paper products, the carbon footprint includes all greenhouse gas emissions from harvesting trees through the manufacturing process to use and disposal or recycling. A look across this entire life cycle shows that paper’s carbon footprint can be divided into three basic elements: greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration and avoided emissions.   Each of these elements is influenced by important characteristics that make paper’s carbon footprint smaller than might be expected:   it’s made from a renewable resource that stores carbon, it’s manufactured using mostly renewable energy and it’s recyclable. Read more.

6- Electronic media also has environmental impacts that cannot be ignored. Rather than asking which is better, paper or electronic communication, we should be working to determine which combination of the two has the least impact on the environment while best meeting social and economic needs.   As the population and resulting demand on resources continues to grow, a sustainable future will necessarily depend more heavily on the use of renewable and recyclable products and less on non-renewable materials and the use of fossil fuel energy. Read more.

7- “Go Green – Go Paperless” messages can be misleading and may not meet best practices for environmental marketing. Many leading U.S. companies are urging their customers to go paperless with claims that paperless bills, statements and other electronic communications save trees, are “greener” or otherwise protect the environment. Beyond the fact that “go paperless” marketing messages ignore the highly sustainable nature of print on paper – it comes from a renewable resource, is recyclable and recycled more than any other commodity in the U.S. and has great carbon characteristics – these claims fail to meet the most basic tests for acceptable environmental marketing as outlined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and others. Read more.

8- Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Paper is made from a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable and compostable. These features, combined with the paper industry’s advocacy of responsible forestry practices and certification, use of renewable, carbon-neutral biofuels and advances in efficient papermaking technology, make paper a product with inherent and unique sustainable features. Read more.

There you have it. Each one of the above paragraphs links to our more detailed fact sheets packed with great information and backed-up with verifiable evidence and scientific reports.

Happy Earth Day!

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides North America

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fsjpegWhen it comes to the sustainability of the Graphic Communications Value Chain, it’s important to separate verifiable facts from opinions and misleading information. Fortunately, Two Sides (www.twosides.us) has the resources that can help.

Two Sides has posted nine new 2-page Fact Sheets related to the sustainability of print and paper. Written in clear, easy-to-understand language and including citations to verifiable sources, these Fact Sheets make it easy to understand that print, paper, and packaging have a great environmental story to tell.

Below you’ll find a quick summary of each of the nine new Fact Sheets, plus a link leading to the fact sheet itself.  Please feel free to share these valuable resources with colleagues, customers, students and local media. You can be part of Two Sides’ efforts to end the harmful practice of “greenwashing” (using inflated, inaccurate, or misleading data to misrepresent environmental performance).  Check out the facts, then click through for the downloadable Fact Sheets:

FACT: “Go Green – Go Paperless” and “Save-a-Tree” claims are misleading and may not meet best practices for environmental marketing.  These marketing messages ignore the highly sustainable nature of print on paper – it comes from a renewable resource, is recyclable and recycled more than any other commodity in the U.S. and has great carbon characteristics. Learn More

FACT: Anti-paper environmental claims are often inaccurate and should be challenged. After research showed that more than half of America’s leading banks, utilities and telecommunications companies are using misleading anti-paper environmental marketing claims, Two Sides began its “myth-busting” campaign. To date, more than 40% of those contacted have eliminated unsubstantiated anti-paper claims from their marketing. Learn More

FACT: E-Media also have environmental impacts. A recent study estimates that developing countries will produce at least twice as much electronic waste (e-waste) as developed countries within the next six to eight years. Uncontrolled toxic emissions can result from the informal recycling practices often used in the developing world; these emissions can include dioxins, furans, and cyanide. Learn More

FACT: The carbon footprint of paper is not as high as you may think. The U.S. forest products industry is a leader in the production of renewable energy, with more than 65% of the on-site energy needed to produce paper products derived from carbon-neutral biomass. Learn More

FACT: Sustainable forest management benefits people and the planet. In addition to replenishing the supply of recycled fiber, the U.S. paper industry’s perpetual use of trees harvested from responsibly managed forests has a host of economic, social and environmental benefits. Learn More

FACT: Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. In 2012, nearly 51 million tons or 65.1% of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling, up 76% since 1990. The industry’s new recovery goal is to exceed 70% by 2020. Learn More

FACT: Most of the energy used to make pulp and paper is renewable. The print and paper industry accounts for only 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions; at a global level, the greenhouse gas emissions from the forest products industry value chain are largely offset by sequestration in forests and forest products. Learn More

FACT: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Paper is made from a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable and compostable; in the United States, paper is recycled more than any other commodity in the municipal solid waste stream, including plastics, glass and metals. Learn More

FACT: Paper supports sustainable forest management. The income U.S. landowners receive for products grown on their land—including wood for papermaking—encourages them to maintain, renew and manage this valuable resource sustainably, instead of converting forestland to non-forest uses. Learn More

Led by sustainable and responsible forestry, paper production and printing, the U.S. Graphic Communications Value Chain is working to ensure that, in a world of scarce resources, print and paper’s unique recyclable and renewable qualities can be enjoyed for generations to come. By sharing these Fact Sheets, you can help Two Sides U.S. and its member companies strengthen the paper, packaging, print, and related industries—and make an important contribution to real environmental sustainability. Find more resources, plus information on how to become a member company, at www.twosides.us.

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When you work closely with the people and companies involved in the Graphic Communications Value Chain – the papermakers, printers, publishers, foresters, and countless others who make paper products and printed communication possible – it’s easy to see how versatile, practical, and environmentally beneficial responsible production and use of print and paper can be.

For the public at large, however, that positive message is harder to see. Working against negative information and environmental misconceptions about print and paper is difficult; I’m sure we have all had moments when we feel like nobody out there understands the true sustainable features of our products.

That is why it’s great to find others who are also working to dispel the myths and convey the “good news” about paper and print products and their sustainability. A case in point is a series of articles sponsored by Two Sides member company International Paper. The articles are available online at Triple Pundit, a new-media company with one of the world’s most well-read websites on ethical, sustainable and profitable business.

These six highly informative articles were fact-checked by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. They do a great job of conveying the positive attributes of print, paper, and forest products, with a special focus on certification and sustainability. We’ve provided a quick summary of each below, with a link to the full article on the Triple Pundit website. I hope you find them a useful resource.  Feel free to share ideas and resources in the Comments section below.

Paper and the Untold Sustainable Forestry Story

By Teri Shanahan, Vice President, Sustainability, International Paper

This is a great introduction to what the author calls “a counterintuitive story: harvest trees to save forests.” She lays out one of the most important fundamentals of the sustainable forests equation: privately owned forestland not used for forest products is at serious risk of being given over to other uses.  “In the U.S., a whopping 70 percent of forestland are ‘working forests’ that rely on an economic driver for their existence,” Shanahan notes. “By using paper, recycling that paper, and choosing paper once again, you can play a part in preserving our planet’s forests.”

Deforestation and the Role of Paper Products

By Phil Covington

This article provides a balanced look at the causes and consequences of deforestation. Globally, around 40 percent of the annual industrial wood harvest is processed for paper and paperboard. While it is true that “demand for paper and other forest products provides an incentive to keep growing, harvesting and regenerating planted forests,” says Covington, paper producers are working to sustainably manage the world’s forests, and the industry need not be a cause of deforestation. “Through proper management with independently certified forestry standards, the supply of paper – fundamental to humankind’s development – can remain so responsibly into the future.”

The State of the Earth’s Forests

By Eric Justian

Providing a more in-depth look at the world’s forested areas, this article discusses variables affecting our forests, and explains the economic factors that have driven change in the past and must be considered for a sustainable future. “The important thing is for nations to focus on actually using forests as permanent and invaluable resources,” Justian writes. “As nations do that, they protect and promote those resources. This is where businesses and governments can and do work together toward a globally healthy, sustainable goal. In that goal, the world is moving in the right direction.”

Certification: Building Standards for Sustainable Forests

By Jan Lee

“Pretty much anyone who works in sustainable forestry these days will tell you that certification is the cornerstone of a responsible eco-conscious forestry program,” writes Lee. This article outlines the primary and secondary benefits of certification, and discusses the different certification programs available, as well as the distinct benchmarks offered by each.

Join the Forest Certification Movement to Meet Your Sustainability Goals

By Kathy Abusow

Today, only about 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified, which represents about a quarter of global round wood production. “It’s vitally important for all of us to increase the percentage of timberland that is certified to a credible standard, while also promoting responsible forestry on uncertified lands,” says the author.  This article outlines steps business leaders can take to support the certification movement and promote sustainable forestry.

Responsible Forestry: Can Certification Save Our Forests?

By Mike Hower

Human society, with its economic and material needs, relies on the resources provided by our planet’s forests; yet, absent of human intervention, natural factors like storms, pests, and diseases also consume those resources. Writes Hower, “Can we find a middle ground to maintain the health of the forests and also use them responsibly for present and future generations?” This article compares two leading certification programs – SFI and FSC – and explains their differences. As Hower concludes, “In a world of depleting forest stocks, any effort toward responsible forestry is a step in the right direction.”

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides U.S., Inc.

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Kudos to the team at Keep Me Posted for a great video that spells it out…with a British twist!

A group of charities, consumer watchdogs and postal operators in the UK recently launched a new campaign to stop banks, utilities and telecoms firms from forcing their customers to use paperless billing.  The “Keep Me Posted” campaign warns that switching bills and statements to digital channels is not always suitable for a “large proportion” of UK consumers, but businesses have been looking to switch transactional mail to electronic channels in order to save on cost.  Sound familiar?

The Keep Me Posted campaign wants businesses to adopt a “Right to Choose” pledge demonstrating their commitment to allowing customers to decide how they receive their important communications.

So why do we care here in the states?  Because the UK campaign highlights many similar statistics that we have seen here in North America through a recent, independent survey and helps bring those results to life.  The outcomes are comparable and can have a global message and impact.

For example, as pressure to go paperless from banks, utilities, telecommunications companies and other service providers grows, a majority of U.S. consumers want to keep the option to receive paper bills and statements, according to a nationwide survey conducted for Two Sides US  by research firm Toluna.  Similar results were also found in an earlier National US survey conducted by Infotrends on behalf of Consumers for Paper Options and in the UK by Two Sides U.K.

We think our US  survey results speak for themselves…and for people in support of paper correspondence options:

  • 64% of consumers say they would not choose a company that did not offer a paper bill option.
  • 88% want to be able to switch between electronic and paper bills without difficulty or cost.
  • 72% agree that print and paper can be an environmentally sustainable way to communicate if responsibly produced, used and recycled.
  • 50% of consumers either do not believe, feel misled by or question the validity of claims like “Save Trees, Go Paperless” and “Go Green, Go Digital.”
  • Over 84% of people agree that e-billing and e-statements are being promoted to save costs.
  • 91% of consumers say they are unwilling to pay for paper bills.
  • 44% prefer to receive bills by postal mail only.
  • 59% of consumers would refuse to switch to electronic bills and statements or would not take action when asked to do so.
  • 50% of consumers read their bills and statements received both electronically and by postal mail; only 15% read bills which they receive by email only.
  • 34% of consumers are clearly ‘home printers’ with 20% printing up to 20% of their bills and 8% printing between 80% and 100% of their bills. 66% don’t print out any bills at home.

If you haven’t already, check out the full survey report.  It is available to Two Sides members at http://www.twosides.us/Members-Only-Page

And let us know your thoughts on the “Keep Me Posted” video!

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US

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Our new web page is up: Responsible Production and Use of Print and Paper

The objective of this resource is to help support a key element of the Two Sides mission which is to “promote the responsible production and use of print and paper”.

Whether you are reading a book or magazine, or writing notes on a piece of paper, the product you are using (print or paper…or both) has had a long and, sometimes complex, life before ending up in your hands.  What you do with it, i.e. keep it or recycle it, will also determine its overall impact on the environment.

This “life cycle” is key to understanding the overall environmental footprint of print and paper products.  The key factors driving this footprint are:

  • Raw material production, including forest management and the collection of recovered paper
  • Pulp and paper manufacturing
  • Printing and converting
  • Disposal and recycling
  • Transportation at various steps of this life cycle

As usual, when we start looking into the life-cycle of products, things get complicated due to the numerous steps and actors involved. 

In the case of paper and print, recycling and ensuring that forests are certified to standards such as SFI and FSC are a few examples of responsible production and use, but these are only the first basic steps in a much larger and complex life cycle.

The life cycle of printing and writing papers (from AF&PA, 2011)

The life cycle of printing and writing papers (from AF&PA, 2011)

Our new webpage outlines the life cycle of print and paper in more detail and the various ways in which producers and buyers can reduce the environmental impacts of their products.  It includes links to the following ten Reference Sheets, which are loaded with examples of topic-specific tools, reports and articles from our member companies, allied organizations and other well-know and credible sources:

  1. The Paper Life Cycle – Resources explaining “life cycle thinking” and how to aim for a continual reduction in the environmental footprint of print and paper.
  2. Sustainable Forest Management – Information on best practices, forest certification and how to curb illegal logging.
  3. Clean Production – Example of best practices for manufacturing pulp and paper, including energy efficiency and water reduction.
  4. Climate Change and Carbon Footprint – Selected examples of how companies can determine their carbon footprint and reduce it, and how climate change creates not only challenges, but opportunities, for print and paper.
  5. Recycling and Use of Recovered Paper – What is sustainable use of recycled fiber? Statistics on fiber use, import and export.
  6. Environmental Reporting – Examples of resources supporting open and transparent sustainability reporting.
  7. Eco-Labels and Environmental Claims – Information to help readers understand the various eco-labels and what is behind them, and to cut through the “greenwashing”.
  8. Guidelines for Responsible Paper Production, Use and Procurement – Guides and tools published by credible organizations to help define responsible procurement, production and use.
  9. Examples of Responsible Paper Procurement Policies – Policy examples from leading companies that are setting the pace for responsible paper procurement.
  10. Environmental Scorecards and Product Declarations – Examples of paper scorecards and declarations used to evaluate the environmental performance of various paper grades.

I invite you to share this information with your co-workers, customers, suppliers and others, and take an active part in the conversation about on the sustainability and value of print and paper.

Two Sides feels that the US Graphic Communications Value Chain has a great story to tell about the responsible production and use of print and paper, and about the perks that this value chain provides our communities.

Phil Riebel
President and COO, Two Sides US

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Everybody pretty much agrees that third-party forest certification is the best tool available for verifying that the wood fiber used to make paper comes from responsibly managed forests.    So, why isn’t all the fiber used in U.S. paper products certified?    It’s a matter of availability … there just isn’t enough certified fiber out there.   

One big reason is the cost and complexity of the certification process.   Millions of small, family-owned forests supply wood fiber for U.S.-manufactured paper, but most of this land isn’t certified because landowners lack both the technical expertise and financial resources to make it happen.   If we’re going to solve this problem and make significant gains, we need to reach out to these landowners and educate them about certification, guide them in developing sustainable forest management plans and make the process affordable.   It won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight, but we’re seeing a growing number of group certification initiatives that prove it’s doable.  

One of the most successful endeavors to date was conducted in Maine, where major paper buyers and producers – Time Inc., Hearst Corporation, NewPage Corporation, Sappi Fine Papers North America and Verso Paper Corp. — joined forces with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Inc. to pilot a successful group certification model.   This model made it possible for small and medium-sized landowners to develop, implement and coordinate responsible forest management plans more simply and cost effectively.  The result was an additional 1.4 million acres certified to the SFI forest management standard in Maine. 

To build on the successful Maine pilot project, the SFI Forest Partnerssm program was established in 2012 by founding partners Time Inc., the National Geographic Society, Macmillan and Pearson.  Each made a five-year commitment to the program’s goals to grow the certified forestland base by 5 million acres by the end of 2014, beginning in the Southeast United States, and by 10 million acres by the end of 2017.   The route to achieving these goals: continuing innovation in group certification that fosters new opportunities for collaboration, cost effectiveness and certification incentives.  The SFI Forest Partners program is also working to facilitate the uptake of fiber from certified forestlands through the supply chain by increasing chain-of-custody certification of small and medium-sized mills, and to influence responsible forestry beyond those lands through fiber sourcing certification.

Another great effort is the Center for Forest & Wood Certification (CFWC) operated out of the University of Kentucky, Department of Forestry Extension.  Operated with sustaining, multiple-year commitments from companies like Domtar Corporation, NewPage and Time Inc. along with funds from a variety of educational, economic development and forestry organizations, the Center’s focus is regional:  Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, and Missouri.   Its emphasis:  breaking through certification bottlenecks so the private sector can more effectively participate and benefit from certification.  CFWC programs include education and training; technical assistance; group certification for forest owners, loggers, and industry; and certification management.

The point of these efforts, of course, is not certification for certification sake, but to make sure that U.S. forests are managed responsibly to provide eco-services, sustainable products, recreational opportunities and aesthetic beauty for generations to come.   In a 2011 article, Family Forest Owners Rule!, Brett Butler, a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, provides a terrific perspective on why reaching out to family forest owners is so important to keeping America’s forests healthy and productive.  It’s a quick read with lots of data from the U.S. Forest Service’s National Woodland Owner Survey.   Among the most interesting facts are that only 4 percent of family forest owners (accounting for 17 percent of family forestland) have written forest management plans and only 14 percent of the owners (37 percent of the land) have received professional forest management advice.  

With 264 million acres of family owned forestland in the U.S. and nearly half of that land owned by people with 100 acres or less, there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved and grow programs like the SFI Forest Partners, CFWC and others!    

For More Information:

SFI Forest Partners Program
Barry Graden, Director for Southeast U.S. Community Outreach
barry.graden@sfiprogram.org
864-451-7958

Center for Forest & Wood Certification

Christopher Reeves
info@forestcertificationcenter.org
855-579-2690 (toll free)

For a list of independent organizations that offer FSC group certification, click here.

Kathi Rowzie is a Two Sides guest blogger and a sustainability communications consultant with The Gagliardi Group in Memphis, Tennessee. 

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Any first-year marketing undergrad can tell you that successful selling comes from building trust and listening to customers.  So, why are many U.S. banks, telecom companies and utilities turning a deaf ear to the majority of consumers who say getting paper bills and statements is important to them?

Just about anybody can tell you that the push to go paperless is really about cost savings. In fact, 84% of people in a recent Two Sides survey agreed that paperless bills and statements are being promoted to reduce costs.  But how much does cost cutting benefit the bottom line if companies are losing customers as a result?  In that same survey, 64% of consumers said that when they’re shopping for a new service provider, they would skip companies that don’t offer the option of a paper bill.   Nearly six in 10 also said they would refuse to switch to e-bills and statements or would not take any action if asked to do so.

Most consumers aren’t buying the companies’ “go paperless, go green” marketing claims either.  According to the survey, half of consumers do not believe, feel misled by or question the validity of such claims.   Nearly three quarters, 72%, believe that when print on paper is responsibly produced, used and recycled, it can be an environmentally sustainable way to communicate.   The survey also found that about a third of people who receive electronic bills and statements print them out at home, so the claim that e-billing is paperless isn’t really true in many cases.

Some may believe that a single survey doesn’t provide enough evidence to make the case for any particular point of view, but even the most skeptical observer can’t deny the growing body of research that shows consumers want a choice when it comes to paper versus electronic billing.  In a national survey conducted by Consumers for Paper Options, 80% of consumers said it’s not okay for companies to force electronic-only bills and statements on their customers.  87% agree the main reason companies want to shift customers to electronic delivery formats is to save money, not to be environmentally responsible.  Similar sentiments were expressed by Britons in surveys conducted by Two Sides U.K. and Keep Me Posted, a broad-based coalition of organizations whose members depend on postal mail.

To me, the decision to continue offering free, paper-based billing options is a no-brainer, especially in industries like telecommunications and banking where competition is fierce.  Consumers have made it pretty clear that paper bills and statements are an important option they want to keep.   When the research data show that even a majority of technology savvy under-25 year olds share the belief that paper options should be preserved, billing companies must ask themselves three important questions:

  1. Can we truly afford to ignore the majority of our customers?
  2. What will be the long-term reputational (and potential legal) implications if we willfully disenfranchise the nearly 30% of American households that don’t have regular internet access, including 45% of seniors who don’t own computers (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2011)? and,
  3. How long will it be before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission takes notice of the vague, unsubstantiated environmental claims we’re using to disguise our cost-saving efforts?

I’m certainly not suggesting that e-billing is a bad thing – it has a lot of positive benefits, including convenience.    But most consumers want and many need paper options.   Companies that dismiss this fact risk losing business.  And those that continue to use unverifiable claims like “go paperless, save trees” as a green cloak for cost cutting risk greater scrutiny by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Kathi Rowzie is a Two Sides guest blogger and a sustainability communications consultant with The Gagliardi Group in Memphis, Tennessee.

For information on the successful Two Sides educational campaign that is helping leading U.S. companies change their messaging to meet best practices for environmental marketing as outlined in the U.S. FTC Green Guides, click here.

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