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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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If you are a Two Sides follower, you may recall our open letter (and press release) to Google Chairman urging him and Google to re-consider their participation in the Paperless2013 initiative, and especially to consider removing or changing the negative environmental claims being made related to paper.  By this we mean the reference to “saving trees” and promoting the perception that switching from paper-based to electronic communications will help protect the environment without having any verifiable or factual information to support the claims.

Challenging and correcting misleading environmental claims related to print and paper has been a focus of Two Sides in Europe for a number of years and more recently in the US after we launched our campaign in July 2012.  Since then, we have approached over 50 US companies to engage with them and discuss best practices for environmental marketing related to print and paper.  Although Google was not on our list, the start of Paperless 2013 in January this year required our quick response.

What followed was unexpected.  Our letter received a lot of coverage, perhaps in part because it was addressed to the Chairman of Google.  Others also became engaged with their views regarding Paperless2013, including PIA who also sent a letterPrintMediaCentr was very active on social media and this had a major impact in engaging people to the point where the Twitter feed for Paperless2013 was dominated with tweets in favor of paper!

The good news is: changes have been made.  There are no longer any environmental claims on the Paperless2103 site or Twitter home page and all pictures of trees or forests have been removed.  The main tag line now is “Take the paper out of paperwork”, instead of “Save money. Save time. Save trees”.   The screenshots before and after are shown below and in more detail here.

Paperless.org website on Jan. 3, 2013Paperless2013.org  website on March 15, 2013

For this we would like to thank the Paperless 2013 coalition.  It is all we were expecting and we appreciate the positive actions taken.

The “paperless” message may never go away because it is a fact that paper, in some cases, can be replaced with electronic media.  Depending on the situation digital can be more practical, faster and cheaper.  But it is not always more sustainable, when considering the life-cycle of both forms of communication, including their environmental and social pros and cons.  The temptation of marketing departments to include environmental claims to promote digital services is often misleading and unnecessarily damaging to the print, paper and mail value chain.

The term  ‘Paperless’ is also  deceptive. Our own recent pilot survey of consumers reveals that more than 55% of people print some of their e-bills at home or at the office, and about 25% of people print more than 30% of their e-bills.  Other research tells us that print on paper is still the medium of trust and 70% of consumers prefer to read from paper instead of  from a screen. So, instead of encouraging users to ‘go paperless’, organizations should  be enabling a choice of outputs – if they really want to consider their customers preferences.

Furthermore,  let’s not forget that 20% of US adults and 20% of UK households do not have access to the Internet.  In fact, 45% of Americans over the age of 65 don’t own a computer. Mail and paper-based communication is a vital service for this segment of the population.

Two Sides will continue its initiative to engage with companies regarding environmental claims. Our approach to date has been to engage 1-on-1 and encourage open discussion.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Some ignore us or don’t respond…so other tactics may be needed.

Phil Riebel
President and COO
Two Sides US, Inc.

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As many of you may know we issued a letter to Google on January 8, urging the company to re-consider its participation in the paperless2013 campaign and reminding them that using vague and unsubstantiated environmental claims and images (i.e. save a tree) to promote electronic media over paper is a form of greenwashing.

Many of you liked the letter and decided to cover it as a news item, distribute it or even write your own letter.  On behalf of Two Sides I would like to thank everyone who helped raise awareness on this important topic.  Special thanks go to the PrintMediaCentr  for their engagement and assistance in reaching a much wider audience.

This was another great example of many of us in the graphic communications value chain standing up to defend the sustainable features of print and paper.

The economic value of our combined sectors is something that corporations and groups such as the Paperless2013 Coalition should not forget.  In summary:

  1.  8.7 million Americans rely on the print, paper and mail value chain for their livelihood (1.1 trillion dollars in revenue).
  2. In the US there are over 10 million US family forest owners, many of whom rely on income from their forestland to continue managing it sustainably.
  3. Most of us are customers of Google and their “paperless 2013” allies and we don’t appreciate the “anti-paper” messaging.  It is damaging to our industry and our livelihood.
  4. The money we spend on their services and products comes from the print, paper and mail value chain.
  5. There are thousands of US college students who are studying paper science and engineering, graphic communications and other programs where print and paper is essential to their future careers.

Switching from paper to electronic products or services doesn’t necessarily result in a more sustainable outcome from an environmental, social and economic point of view.  It depends on many factors and product lifecycle aspects that many companies are failing to consider when they make environmental claims related to going paperless.

Electronic gadgets rely on a growing supply of non-renewable and often rare materials, and the recycling rate of electronic is low compared to paper.  E-waste is growing at an alarming rate and becoming an environmental and social problem in many developing countries.   Online communications may not be as effective as print on paper for “deep reading” and understanding concepts.

For many applications, print and paper is hard to beat.

Two Sides believes that many, even Google, recognize the value of print and paper.  In fact, they just won a USA today print advertising competition.  To quote Robert Wong, Chief Creative Officer at the Google Creative Lab in New York:

“Every medium has its strengths, and for print, they include immediacy in that a newspaper is good for news…a full-page ad in a newspaper says the ad is important.”

Ironic isn’t it.

All we ask is that companies stop spouting negative environmental messages about print on paper to promote electronic media and services which also have pros and cons.    Both media can co-exist and have great synergies.  In many ways they complement each other.  Rather that creating us vs. them scenarios, we need to focus on responsible production and use of all products and services. It’s not just good for the environment and for the U.S. economy… it’s the right thing to do.

Phil Riebel, President, Two Sides U.S.

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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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