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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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This blog first appeared in PIWorld on February 6, 2014 (Two Sides to Sustainability by Phil Riebel).

Electronic devices make our lives better in many ways. However, when we look deeply at their life cycle, it can sometimes raise more questions than it answers. A recent article in the October 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine details how electronic devices are fueling corruption and civil unrest in the Congo.

According to the article, The Price of Precious, the minerals in our electronic devices have bankrolled unspeakable violence in the Congo because “militia-controlled mines in eastern Congo have been feeding raw materials into the world’s biggest electronics and jewelry companies and at the same time feeding chaos. Turns out your laptop—or camera or gaming system or gold necklace—may have a smidgen of Congo’s pain somewhere in it.” The Congo is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country and one of its richest on paper, with an embarrassment of diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, tin, tantalum, you name it—trillions’ worth of natural resources. But because of never ending war, it is one of the poorest and most traumatized nations in the world.

The article goes on to detail that in the late 1990s, foreign troops and rebel groups seized hundreds of mines. The rebels funded their brutality with diamonds, gold, tin, and tantalum, a hard, gray, corrosion-resistant element used to make electronics. Eastern Congo produces 20 to 50 percent of the world’s tantalum. In the early 2000s, the fighting stopped but the Congo was left in shambles…

Bridges, roads, houses, schools, and entire families had been destroyed. As many as five million Congolese had died. Peace conferences were hosted, but cordial meetings in fancy hotels didn’t alter the ugly facts on the ground. The United Nations sent in thousands of military peacekeepers—there are around 17,000 today—but the blood continued to flow. Donor nations sank $500 million into an election in 2006—Congo’s first truly inclusive one—but that didn’t change things either.

Boy working in a precious metals mine in Eastern Congo (Source: National Geographic)

Boy working in a precious metals mine in Eastern Congo (Source: National Geographic)

Sometime around 2008, a critical mass of human rights groups and American lawmakers started asking a crucial question: What about the minerals? What if Congo’s mineral trade could be cleaned up and the rebels shut down? A “blood diamonds” campaign in the late 1990s had exposed how the West African diamond trade was funding rebellions on that side of Africa. What about a similar conflict-minerals campaign for Congo?

America took the lead on making an effective change in mining for any conflict materials and on July 21, 2010, President Barak Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill that included a special section on conflict minerals. The law called for publicly listed American companies to disclose whether any of their products included minerals from mines controlled by armed groups in or around Congo. Though Dodd-Frank did not explicitly ban corporations from using Congo’s conflict minerals, it made big companies worry about being linked with what is arguably the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

Many leading electronic companies, including Intel, Motorola and HP, had already taken action to understand where the materials were coming from to fuel their products and how they could improve their supply chain. Since the law went into effect, many other companies, but not all, have also made progress auditing their supply chains, according to the Enough Project, an American nonprofit that ranks major company efforts to create a clean minerals trade.

This story makes me look at my smartphone and laptop in a different way. It may also cause more people to doubt claims that electronic media is “green” compared to other alternatives, such as print and paper.

In the end, we all need to challenge ourselves to learn more about the products we use every day. This means purchasing products from companies that lead the way in sustainability and are making efforts to improve their performance and supply chain, whether it is print, paper or electronic devices.

Many of the details shared in the article were taken directly from the original National Geographic story. You can also access it at:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/conflict-minerals/gettleman-text

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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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bustPut on your dancing shoes and watch our latest animated video that features some great facts and figures about the important role that paper and print media play in an environmentally sustainable world.

Click this link to view the video

This is a great resource for professionals in the Graphic Communications Value Chain who want to share facts and figures, and dispel “greenwashing” myths about print and paper.

ecgrThe video is an animated version of our popular “Eco-Graphic”, a full-color Infographic poster available for download here.  The Eco-Graphic was created by Lynette Maymi, a design professional from Pompano Beach, Florida and winner of the Two Sides Eco-Graphic Challenge.

Thanks again to graphic designer Marco Morales and the Two Sides US sustainability and marketing committees for their great work and input on the video!

Phil Riebel, President, Two Sides U.S.

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Case Study:  The Cost of Direct Mail versus Email Invoices

This blog appeared in the series “Two Sides to Sustainability” by Phil Riebel in Printing Impressions on December 5, 2013

Every now and then I come across a study that flies in the face of conventional beliefs.  This one in particular interested me because of our ongoing campaign to remove “anti-paper” green claims used to promote “lower cost” electronic billing.  It seems that the “lower cost” feature is now also being questioned by some.  Let’s take a look.

In 2009, a young Danish company called Natur-Energi A/S took on a challenge to create a better communication tool that would increase the number of invoices paid on time.  Natur-Energi is dedicated to locating, generating and delivering simple and effective energy supplies and solutions that result in lower CO2 generation.  Their customers are, for the most part, private small and medium-sized companies who are committed to CO2 reduction and slowing climate change.

According to an article in the August 2013 issue of Fresh Data (an on-line resource from Data Services Inc.), a case study details how Natur-Energi decided to test whether switching to paper invoices with a new population of customers would improve the speed of payment.  The study’s objective was to establish what effect digital invoicing has on customers and whether switching to invoices sent via physical mail could improve the on-time delivery of payments with those customers.  Secondly, the campaign would investigate whether digital invoices were cheaper than physical mail in regard to overall operational costs.

A test population group of 2,879 new customers was selected and their behavior through a two-month billing and payment cycle was carefully monitored.  Records were kept of the type of invoice sent, date and medium of the first and second reminders, traffic to Customer Service and date of write-off.

What they uncovered is good news for the paper industry.  According to the case study, evidence shows that new customers pay the required amount significantly later if they receive their invoices by email, compared to physical mail.  Natur-Energi discovered that sending invoices via email actually increased their overall costs. 

The survey found that 59 percent of customers receiving the invoice via email had to be sent a reminder, while only 29 percent of customers receiving the invoice via mail required a follow-up message.

After the first reminder, the customer helpline saw activity increase 80 percent from the customers who received email invoices which created a large strain on the company’s customer service telephones as well as personnel. Only 50 percent of the customers who received their invoices via email reached out for help. That is to say, 47 percent of those receiving an initial invoice by email called Customer Service after a reminder meaning only 14.5 percent of customers receiving an initial invoice via direct mail called Customer Service.

The survey clearly states:

  • A call to Customer Service was calculated to cost about $9 per call. On these calls, the customers were asked why they had not paid on first billing. The common responses were that either they had not received the first bill, or “Maybe it’s in the SPAM folder.”  Or, put another way, about 38 percent of the customers billed by email ended up costing the company an additional $9 (80 percent of 59 percent).  However, only 14.5 percent of those billed by mail cost the company that $9 (50 percent of 29 percent).
  • And, of course, there were non-payers in both groups who failed to pay after a second bill and the management of each of these customers was customer specific and calculated to cost on average of  $11.
  • The bottom line is that it cost the company $3.25 per customer to get paid by paper invoice and $5.75 per customer billed by email.

With every new reminder that had to be sent out, costs increased significantly for those customers needing an extra push to make their payment.  What Natur-Energi experienced by using paper invoices was a savings of 42.8 percent of the associated costs.

Another interesting element of this experiment? Direct mail postage is pricey in Denmark at almost twice what is in the United States.  It seems to makes sense to us then that the case becomes even stronger for mailing invoices in the U.S. market where the postage cost is so much lower.

According to Natur-Energi CFO Gert Lund Storgaard, “Liquidity is a vital success factor in a new and fast growing company, and we will continue to send physical invoices to new customers for this reason.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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2013 has been another great year for us thanks to our member companies, allied organizations, partners, our many volunteers and, of course, the Two Sides team that do much of the day-to-day work. This alliance is helping us fulfill our mission which, we believe, is essential to all of us who use print and paper products everyday, and the millions who work in the print and paper value chain.

Some 2013 Highlights

Two Sides U.S. now has over 65 commercial member companies.  They are from sectors across the graphic communication value chain, including paper producers and merchants, envelope manufacturers, printers, direct mail companies, printing equipment manufacturers, and more.  In 2013, twenty-three new commercial member companies joined us, including International Paper and Canon USA.

Over 30 Allied Organizations.  In 2013, seven new Allied Organizations joined us.  Our allies now include environmental think thanks such as Dovetail Partners, several industry trade associations such as AF&PA, the NPTA Alliance, the Envelope Manufacturers Association, NPES The Association of Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies, Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA), TAPPI, The Imaging Network Group (ING), and advocacy groups such as Consumer for Paper Options, to name a few.   Eight U.S. colleges are also part of our network:

  • North Carolina State University Pulp and Paper Foundation
  • State University of New York – Environmental Sciences and Forestry
  • Miami University Paper Science and Engineering Foundation
  • Western Michigan University – Paper Technology Foundation
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo – Graphic Communication Department
  • University of North Florida – Coggin College of Business
  • University of Houston – Digital Media Program
  • University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point – Paper Science Foundation

Several publishers have donated ad space for our “No Wonder You Lover Paper” campaign.  Two Sides ads have now appeared in the following magazines / newspapers.

  • Discover Adams Avenue
  • Editor & Publisher
  • GDUSA
  • Gravure Magazine
  • Inc. Magazine
  • National Geographic
  • Print Solutions
  • The Daily Collegian at Penn State
  • The Social Media Monthly
  • The Union Democrat

Our committees regroup volunteers from 24 organizations.  We owe them much!  They are the governance of Two Sides and help set the direction forward.  The following organizations hold seats on our Board of Directors and committees:

  • American Forest & Paper Association
  • Appleton Coated
  • Boise
  • Canon USA
  • Case Paper Company
  • Domtar
  • Dovetail Partners
  • Earth Color
  • Eastman Kodak
  • Envelope Manufacturers Association
  • Lindenmeyr Munroe
  • MacPaper
  • Neenah
  • NewPage Corporation
  • Norkol Inc. and Converting
  • NPES, The Association for Suppliers of Printing , Publishing and Converting Technologies
  • Premier Press
  • PrintMediaCentr
  • Sappi Fine Paper North America
  • State University of New York – Environmental Sciences & Forestry
  • The NPTA Alliance
  • Twin Rivers Paper
  • Unisource
  • UPM
  • Western States Envelope & Label

Our Two Sides team and partners help deliver what you see!  A personal thanks to all who have helped deliver the Two Sides U.S. program this year.  Your dedication, passion for the cause, great work and advice is much appreciated.

  • Deborah Corn at PrintMediaCentr
  • Jamie Kenny from Kenny Consulting Group
  • Lillian Polz and Kristin at Hanna, Zappa & Polz
  • Martyn Eustace, Sonya Sanghera, Sarah Collins and the rest of the Two Sides UK team
  • Ronnie Hwang, Pamm Schroeder and Kevin Gammonley at the NPTA Alliance
  • Simona Marcellus, Raine Hyde, and Jan Bottiglieri at TAPPI

On behalf of all of us at Two Sides U.S. we thank all of you who follow our activities, distribute our information, and help grow our network to promote the sustainability of print and paper.

Have a Great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides U.S.

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Lots of people use paper towels to clean up leaks – but we’ve heard about a way paper is being used to prevent leaks of a much more serious nature.

Earlier this year, several world news outlets shared the news that Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) had budgeted 486,000 rubles – just under $15,000 – for new electric typewriters, along with ribbons and other accessories.  By using typewriters and paper for sensitive or classified communications, the FSO, which is charged with protecting important government personnel including Russia’s president and prime minister, hopes to prevent the kind of electronic document leaks related to the recent WikiLeaks scandal.

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper quoted Nikolai Kovalev, former director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, speaking to Russian newspaper Izvestiya: “From the point of view of security, any means of electronic communication is vulnerable. You can remove any information from a computer. There are means of defense, of course, but there’s no 100 percent guarantee they will work. So from the point of view of preserving secrets, the most primitive methods are preferable: a person’s hand and a pen, or a typewriter.”

In addition to being safe from electronic theft or distribution, typed paper documents are easier to trace to their source. Each individual typewriter has its’ own unique “signature,” due to minute differences in type patterns and mechanical operation. Computer printers don’t exhibit this type of identifiable signature.

News sources including USA Today, The Guardian, Huffington Post and other international media all reported on the story. The New York Post ran the headline, “Russian government goes back in time; will use typewriters to leak-proof sensitive classified documents,” which unfortunately (and unfairly) implies that paper documentation is somehow a thing of the past.

The truth is, electronic document vulnerability is a very real concern. In addition to government intelligence records, proprietary or sensitive business records (including financial records, vendor lists, or client information) can be targeted for theft, as can personal correspondences via email or text. Identity fraud (through appropriation of personal information, such as a credit card number, that has been stored or transmitted electronically) affects thousands of people every day; in 2010, more than 8 million Americans reported being the victims of identity fraud (source: Congressional Research Service report to Congress.)

What’s more, typewriters and paper documentation are still necessary for many specific uses. One recent Wall Street Journal article noted that many states have laws requiring that permanent records, such as death certificates, must be filled out by hand or typed. Funeral homes, government agencies, and even prisons still rely on typewriters to create physical copies (i.e., paper, not virtual) of permanent records. This NBC News story relates how typewriters are becoming increasingly popular among a demographic too young to remember a time before “keystroking” had supplanted “typing” as a necessary skill. As one young student tells reporter Stephanie Gosk, “When you’re sitting at (a typewriter), you almost feel like you can be like Ernest Hemingway or Jack Kerouac.”

Old-school typewriters didn’t need electricity to run. In 1939, author Ernest Hemingway worked on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” outside at his ranch in Sun Valley, Idaho. Source: Google Images

Permanent, secure, and an elegant form of artistic expression –typed documents are still a necessary part of our world, even in this “digital age.” We would love to hear about your experiences with type or typewriters; please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US, Inc.

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