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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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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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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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As little as 10 years ago, sustainable paper procurement policies were rare – crafted by a few forward-thinking companies that traditionally move ahead of the curve on sustainability issues and companies that were publicly engaged by environmental groups.  How times have changed!   Paper consumers, especially large commercial print and paper buyers, are now a driving force in the responsible production, use and disposal of printed media, using sustainable paper procurement policies not only as a tool to green their own supply chains, but also to advocate continuous environmental performance improvement throughout the paper life cycle.

In my experience helping companies develop sustainable paper procurement (SPP) policies, the toughest step is usually getting past the inevitable questions from senior management: “Why do we need an SPP policy and how much will it cost to implement it?”

The “why” is simple.  As global mega-companies like Walmart, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever drive sustainability deep into their supply chains, demonstrating a commitment to responsible sourcing, production, use and disposal is quickly evolving from an option to a requirement for doing business – including paper-related business.  The bottom line: do it now or get left behind.

A sustainable paper procurement policy spells out your company’s commitment and provides an effective way to concisely communicate it to your customers and other stakeholders.  It also provides a framework for delivering on that commitment, guiding your company toward continuous environmental performance improvement and encouraging your paper suppliers to take next steps in their own sustainability.  The ultimate result:  your company contributes not only to its own long-term success, but to real environmental progress!

The “how much” depends on your current practices and programs.  When estimating the cost of putting an SPP policy in place, companies are often surprised to find that they are already doing many of the things a policy will entail, like requiring that all their paper comes from legal sources, that they support third-party forest certification and use only paper that is certified or comes from non-controversial sources, and that their suppliers’ facilities have certified environmental management systems in place.   An SPP policy validates those initiatives already in place and helps focus them in a way that sheds light on opportunities for improvement.

With that said, SPP policies are designed to encourage continuous performance improvement across the paper life cycle, so long-term credibility requires setting some stretch goals.    Some companies include goals in their policy and revise them periodically as appropriate; others develop separate action plans.  Any additional financial commitment, of course, depends on how ambitious the goals are and the path a company chooses for achieving them.

To truly benefit the environment, SPP policies must be life cycle-driven, including common elements related to sustainable forest management and certification, resource conservation and environmental protection in the manufacturing process, energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction, waste management, recycling and corporate social responsibility.  The specifics, however, can vary widely by company and depend on a variety of factors ranging from an organization’s overall sustainability strategy and supply chain to the grades of paper purchased and end uses.  Once a policy with supporting goals is in place, it’s also important to be transparent in reporting progress.

If your company is ready to develop and implement (or update) an SPP there are lots of resources to help you get started.   One of the best resources is the World Resources Institute’s Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-based Products (Version 3).   Focused on the 10 Things You Should Know about the legal, environmental and social aspects of procurement, this detailed guide is designed specifically for companies that do not have in-house forest and forestry expertise.   For a shorter overview, check out Volume 1 of Sappi’s white paper series, Environmentally Responsible Paper Procurement Policies.

Top 10 things you should know about sustainable procurement of forest products (WRI and WBCSD)Finally, don’t be shy about taking advantage of others’ efforts.  Like any process, developing a sustainable paper procurement policy will be a learning experience.  Talk with people who’ve actually gone through the process and ask lots of questions. While no two companies or policies are exactly the same, hearing the experience of others may spark ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise considered and may help you avoid missteps that could come back to bite you.

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

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The following open letter has been sent to Mr. Eric Schmidt of Google and highlights Two Sides’ concerns that Google and others are trying to promote their services as environmentally preferable to print and paper whereas there is significant evidence that electronic communication, and Google’s activities in particular, carry a significant and increasing environmental footprint.

Mr. Eric Schmidt
Chairman of the Board
Google Inc.
Mountain View, CA
USA   94043

Dear Mr Schmidt,

We read with some incredulity the news of Google’s encouragement to consumers to ‘Go Paperless in 2013’. This initiative is accompanied by pictures of trees and US recycling data that presumably is intended to highlight the environmental benefits that will arise from ‘going paperless’. http://www.paperless2013.org/.

Google is joined in the project by US based organizations HelloFax, an online fax service; Manilla, an online bill management service; HelloSign, an e-signature service; Expensify, an online expense reporting service; Xero, an online business accounting service; and Fujitsu, which makes the ScanSnap scanner.

While the products and services delivered by Google are to be admired, this new initiative is clearly another example of a self-interested organization using an environmentally focused marketing campaign to promote its services while ignoring its own impact upon the environment.

Let’s consider the facts:

Google’s own environmental impact is astounding (1).

  •  Google uses 2.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. This would power 207,000 US homes for one year, or about 41 Empire State Buildings.
  • Data centre power use accounts for roughly 2 per cent of the US’s annual electricity consumption.
  • For every kilowatt-hour used for computing in a typical data centre, nearly a whole additional kilowatt-hour is used for running cooling and heating systems.
  • 100 searches on Google is equivalent to burning a 60 watt light bulb for 20 minutes, using 0.03Kwh electricity and 20 gms of carbon dioxide.
  • 100 minutes of YouTube video is equivalent to burning a 60 watt light bulb for 13 minutes, using 0.02 Kwh of electricity and 13 gms of carbon dioxide.
  • Every gmail user uses 2.2Kwh energy every year and generates 1.2kg of carbon dioxide.

Greenpeace (2) highlights that E-waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream. In Europe e-waste is increasing at three to five percent a year, almost three times faster than the total waste stream. The amount of electronic products discarded globally has skyrocketed recently, with 20-50 million tonnes generated every year. Electronic waste (e-waste) now makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste worldwide.

Studies (3) have reached the conclusion that document reading, if intended to be read more than once or by several people, may be more environmentally friendly if printed.

A New York Times recent article (4) revealed the extraordinary impact electronic communication is having on the environment.

In the United States, more trees are grown than are harvested and the volume of trees growing on US forestland has increased 49% over the last 50 years (5).  The amount of US forestland has remained essentially the same for the last 100 years at about 750 million acres, even though the US population tripled during the same period (6). Forest cover in Europe is now 30% larger than in 1950 and has been increasing by 1.5 million soccer fields every year.

Let’s remember that paper is made from wood, a sustainable and renewable product that is an increasingly valuable resource for the creation of a vast range of sustainable products.  Responsibly managed forests are a critical resource that benefit the environment and also provide wood and wood by-products that are now seen as a preferred material as society tries to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. It takes energy to produce paper but most of it is renewable and, as an example, over 65% of the energy used to make pulp and paper in the US, and 54% in Europe, originates from renewable biomass (7, 8).

So, before encouraging people to go paperless, and particularly inferring that electronic  services are better for the environment,  Google and others need to examine their own impacts and perhaps might reflect that, on balance, print and paper can be a sustainable way to communicate.

In reality we live in an increasingly digital world and electronic and paper based communication coexist. Each has environmental impacts and it would be helpful, and more honest with consumers, if organizations would not try to differentiate their products and services on the basis of spurious and unattributed environmental claims.  Such Greenwash marketing is not only damaging to corporate reputations but also increasingly, we consider, in flagrant disregard of advertising standards such as those of the U.S Federal Trade Commission and DEFRA (UK) (9, 10).

We hope that Google reconsiders its participation in this campaign.

Yours sincerely,

Martyn Eustace                                                      Phil Riebel

Director, Two Sides UK                                       President, Two Sides U.S., Inc.


Sources:

  1.  Google/Associated Press, Sep 8, 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_platform
  2. Greenpeace, The e-waste problem.  http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/electronics/the-e-waste-problem/
  3. Energy Use of Print vs. Electronic Media, Tejo Pydipati October 24, 2010. http://www.twosides.info:8080/content/rsPDF_288.pdf
  4. The Cloud Factories, Power, Pollution and the Internet.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/technology/data-centers-waste-vast-amounts-of-energy-belying-industry-image.html?_r=1&,
  5. Society of American Foresters, 2007. http://www.twosides.info/Content/rsPDF_86.pdf
  6. USDA Forest Service, 2010. http://www.twosides.info/Content/rsPDF_84.pdf
  7. 2012 AF&PA Sustainability Report.  http://www.twosides.info:8080/content/rsPDF_255.pdf
  8. Two Sides/CEPI.   http://www.twosides.org.au/The-European-paper-industry-is-one-of-Europes-biggest-producers-of-biomass-energy
  9. U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Environmental Claims – Summary of the Green Guides. http://www.twosides.info:8080/content/rsPDF_267.pdf
  10. DEFRA’s Quick Guide to Making a Good Environmental Claim, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. http://www.twosides.info:8080/content/rsPDF_279.pdf

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santaWho depends on print and paper more than anyone else this time of year?  Why, Santa, of course.   The handwritten letter is still the method of choice for sending Christmas wish lists to the man in red.  According to the U.S. Postal Service, millions of letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole” arrive at Post Offices across the country each December … more than a half million in New York City alone!   Santa’s helpers, through programs like the USPS’s 100-year-old Letters to Santa program, respond to many of these letters, making holiday wishes come true for needy children.

The time-honored tradition of putting ink on paper, sealing the envelope and dropping a letter to Santa in the mail is one of those very personal, very tactile experiences that’s impossible to capture with an email.   It’s also a very sustainable way to communicate with the North Pole’s most celebrated resident.   In fact, we have it on good authority that Santa, a fellow known for keeping lists, uses the following “Top 10” to remind people that print on paper is a sound environmental choice.

Santa’s Top 10 Facts on Print and Paper Sustainability

  1. Paper is made from renewable resources [trees grown in responsibly managed forests], and responsibly produced and used paper has many advantages over other, nonrenewable alternative materials.  (World Wildlife Fund)
  2. In the United States, paper is recycled more than plastics, metals and glass. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
  3. Nearly 67% of paper produced in the United States in 2011 was recovered for recycling. (American Forest & Paper Association)
  4.  Most of the wood used to make U.S. paper, about 60%, comes from small, family-owned tree farms. (Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.)
  5. The demand for sustainable paper products provides a strong financial incentive for landowners to manage their land responsibly rather than sell it off for development –the primary cause of  U.S. forest loss.  (World Business Council for Sustainable Development and NCASI)
  6. U.S. papermaking does not cause deforestation.  The amount of U.S. forestland has remained the same for the last 100 years at around 750 million acres.  (U.S. Forest Service)
  7. More U.S. trees are grown – through planting and natural regeneration – than are harvested each year.  (U.S. Forest Service)
  8. About 65% of the energy used to manufacture U.S. paper is generated using renewable, carbon-neutral biomass.  (American Forest & Paper Association)
  9. Because forest products [including paper] can require little or no fossil fuels for production and store carbon throughout their useful life, they can have inherent climate change advantages over all other materials with which they compete, provided they are produced in a sustainable manner.  (World Resources Institute)
  10. The U.S. forest products and paper industry directly supports 870,000 U.S. jobs.  (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

For more facts on the sustainability of print and paper, visit the Myths and Facts section of the Two Sides website at www.twosides.us

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

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