There are common misconceptions that the print and paper industry is unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly. This is further reinforced by financial organisations, utility companies, banks and other service providers encouraging their customers to “go green – go paperless”, suggesting electronic bills and statements instead. Whilst the potential cost savings of going digital are credible, the environmental claims are unsupported, misleading and have longstanding consequences on consumer perceptions on paper.
The Print & Paper Industry
Organisations sometimes encourage consumers to go paperless by prompting them to “save trees” but are statements like this based on facts?
The problem with these messages can misguide us into thinking that digital communications are more environmentally friendly than paper-based communications. Considering the whole product life cycle for both mediums can allow companies to provide transparent and accurate information about the environmental effects of these activities.
What is the Consumer Choice?
Many organisations opt to go paperless now; some even charge extra if their customers wish to receive paper-based communication. Many consumers appreciate the convenience of digital-based communication, but what about the vulnerable members of our society?
Older and disabled people, rural communities and those on low incomes are some of the people at risk of remaining disconnected, increasing the digital divide.
In a digital world, paper is also a sound green choice and complements communication strategies. A combined digital paper strategy effectively reaches out to a wider audience, recognising consumer choice whilst balancing the footprints left behind.
Read our Greenwashing Infographic to find out more information on how to recognise a greenwashing statement.
Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2018. https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/Circular-Consumer-Electronics-2704.pdf