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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.

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.

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.

There is good news for those who enjoy paper and print!  An article in the recent November 2013 issue of Scientific American magazine clearly supports what we already know:  most people understand and remember text better when read on paper rather than a screen.  According to the article, while e-readers and tablets are becoming more popular as these technologies improve, reading on paper has many advantages.

Since the 1980s, there have been more than 100 comparative studies in the United States, U.K. Taiwan, Sweden, Norway, France and Japan to explore differences of how people read and comprehend on paper versus screens.  While technology has continued to improve, it still hasn’t reached the comprehension level of traditional paper users.  What we have learned from these studies is that readers prefer real paper over its electronic counterpart and achieve high levels of comprehension and retention with paper.

In the article, researchers agree that “screen-based reading can dull comprehension because it is more mentally taxing and even physically tiring that reading on paper.  E-ink reflects ambient light just like the ink on a paper book, but computer screens, smart phones and tablets shine light directly on people’s faces.  Prolonged reading on glossy, self-illuminated screens can cause eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision.  In an experiment by Erik Wastlund, then at Karlstad University in Sweden, people who took a reading comprehension test on a computer scored lower and reported higher levels of stress and tiredness than people who completed it on paper.”

While there are obviously several advantages to using digital technology like being able to access an abundance of information at any time from one device or being able to conveniently travel with a number of different resources in one digital location, paper is still more conducive to learning.  And e-readers fail to re-create certain tactile experiences of reading on paper, the absence of which some find unsettling.

The graphic below  helps to weigh paper against pixel with some compelling points.

Source: Scientific American – November 2013 issue.

Paper not only has inherent environmental features such as high recyclability, carbon storage, and a renewable primary raw material (wood, recycled and alternative fibers), it also fills a key societal role by helping readers create their own unique experience whether it is through learning and study habits or getting personally involved in a work of fiction.  It is less distracting and allows the reader to focus on the text.  The absence of multi-tasking leads to a greater understanding of the subject matter and in turn creates a memorable experience.

Check out the article for yourself.  It goes into great detail about why the brain prefers paper and how the human brain interprets written language, perceives text and constructs a mental representation of the text that is similar to the mental maps we create of terrain and indoor spaces.

Do you prefer to read on paper or screens? Click here to take the Scientific American poll.

Scientific American is available at many newsstands.  To subscribe to Scientific American on-line or purchase the November issue go to:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-reading-brain-in-the-digital-age-why-paper-still-beats-screens

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

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.

This blog appeared in PI World on November 7, 2013 and has been re-posted here with permissions of PIWorld.

There are many debates today about whether technology is helping or hindering learning. Many school administrators want to be the first to adopt new technology because they feel their schools are being judged as inadequate if they don’t keep up with changing resources. But we have to ask the question, “Are they considering all of the options that can help students succeed?” When you consider the negatives of learning from a screen, as well as the cost of purchasing, maintaining and updating electronic devices, is this really the best approach to learning?

Based on a multi-country survey commissioned by Two Sides in September of 2011, we have qualified what we already believed…that many consumers (~70 percent), including 18- to 24-year-olds, prefer reading from paper. In fact, according to a study by O’Hara, K. and A. Sellen in 1997 called A Comparison of Reading Paper and On-line Documents, we may actually learn better from a book, newspaper or printed report than we do using a computer screen.

So why are we pushing so hard to get technology into the classroom?

According to an article in the Chronicle Herald on July 2, 2013, Peter Reiman and Anindito Aditomo of the University of Sydney recently conducted an analysis of the research literature about the impact of technology on student achievement. Their findings were published in the International Guide to Student Achievement (2013). They conclude that most studies show only a moderate academic benefit from technology and that “the effect of computer technology seems to be particularly small in studies that use either large samples or randomized control groups.”

What this tells us is that there are limited benefits to using technology in the classroom…at least in today’s world. Schools need to take a broader approach to improving learning by considering all options of the education process including the basics such as environment, experienced teachers, strong curriculum and all different forms of resources.

In his 2011 book “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning,” renowned education writer Mike Schmoker demonstrates that schools focusing on three key things (a content-rich curriculum, sound lessons and purposeful reading and writing in every discipline) substantially outperform schools that do not. According to Schmoker, technology is unnecessary when it comes to improving student achievement and too much emphasis on technology can get in the way of the essentials of learning.

Technology can also be a distraction for students and contributes to multi-tasking and disappointing grades and performance. Laptops may actually hinder students’ ability to learn, providing a distraction and even affecting students sitting near their owners, according to a stunning new Canadian report. With laptops and tablet computers pervading the modern classroom, the report suggests that paper and pencil is less distracting overall.

“We really didn’t think the effects would be this huge,” explained McMaster University researcher Faria Sana, who co-authored the study with fellow doctoral student Tina Weston. “Those students who multitasked on their laptops performed significantly worse than the pencil pushers—and surprisingly, the effect even reached to students sitting near the laptop users,” Sana said.

What we are learning is that paper and pencil are very effective ways to learn since these traditional tools are less distracting and easier to rely on in all circumstances.

The real question here is, “Are the schools determining the best ways for their students to study and learn, or are they just another group jumping blindly on the technology bandwagon and perhaps forgetting about the educational value of print and paper?”

We must continue research on this topic and provide examples and resources to help educators and parents understand the key role that paper plays in the classroom…and how it can ultimately lead to better learning and comprehension.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US, Inc.

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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