Two Sides targets Australia's top finance companies over 'misleading messaging'

Submitted by: Joe Kowalewski 24/06/2013

Earlier this month Two Sides Australia wrote to leading financial institutions about misleading messaging to their consumers . . . this is an update on coverage.

Two Sides targets Australias top finance companies over misleading messaging

Two Sides warns big banks: stop the greenwashing - Proprint


Two Sides is taking Australia's top financial institutions to task in a bid to end what it calls misleading communications about the environmental benefits of e-statements to customers.

On 5 June, the paper and print industry lobby group said it had sent an open letter to the chief executive officers of the country's leading financial companies, to rethink their companies, communication strategy to customers on the benefits of e-statements over paper statements.

Two Sides is targeting companies that claim that switching to online communication is better for the environment without verifiable supporting evidence. Two Sides is arguing that this messaging is misleading to consumers and encourages them to not use paper.

"It is becoming more and more common that big corporations are unfortunately trying for quick wins when implementing e-commerce initiatives," says Kellie Northwood (pictured), national manager of Two Sides. "As consumers we are constantly being told to change our behaviours, go online, opt for e-statements to be better for the environment, these claims are grossly misleading."

Before environmental claims are made Two Sides recommends that organisations obtain detailed information about the consequences arising from the switch to e-billing and the subsequent environmental cost of all the electronic equipment involved in the distribution and receipt of electronic messages from manufacture to disposal.

"If the major Australian financial institutions want to encourage customers to switch to e-billing because it is more cost effective, then we have no quarrel with that," Says Northwood. "However, we do ask the major banks and credit unions to stop making a false link between reducing the use of paper and helping the environment, unless they have verifiable proof that this is so."

According to Two Sides, the true picture of the environmental benefits of paper is being overlooked by these false messages. One email, with a 400-kilobyte attachment, sent to 20 people, is equivalent to burning a 100-watt light bulb for 30 minutes.

"Paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and consumed is an environmentally sustainable media," says Northwood.

<a href="><u><a data-cke-saved-href=" http:="""" two-sides-targets-australias-top-finance-companies="" 61030"="">Original article sourced from Print21 Online

The open letter said:

Dear .....

In recent years, the wider business community has evolved and developed an increased awareness of corporate responsibility and sustainability issues. Organisations have assumed their share of accountability for maintaining standards of ethical, social and environmental performance.

However, in the crucial area of marketing and communication, in seeking to gain environmental credibility, some organisations are using 'green' marketing initiatives, which encourage customers to receive their bills or communications online, stating that this is 'better for the environment'. There are also 'go paperless' communications stating that, 'paper and print are killing trees and damaging the planet.'

The linkage made between reducing the use of paper and helping the environment not only creates a false impression about the sustainability of print and paper but, as these claims are also unsupported by facts, they contravene the ACCC: Green marketing and the Australian Consumer Law.

Two Sides Australia, a not for profit organisation which represents the print and paper industries, are writing to all financial institutions and asking those who encourage customers to switch to e-billing or any other form of electronic communication, largely to reduce costs, to re-examine their messages to market.

It is certainly not proven that electronic communications provides a lower carbon footprint. In fact, with all the environmental costs of electronic communication and with many customers printing out their communications at home, at a higher environmental cost than a centrally produced and distributed communication, coupled with the significant impact of e-waste, print and paper may well be the only environmentally sustainable way to communicate.

Two Sides does recognise the efficiency of electronic communication and that initiatives to reduce waste are to be encouraged. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that electronic communication and, in particular the energy requirements of the increasing worldwide network of servers which are necessary to store all the information needed for immediate access, has a significant and growing carbon footprint.

Electronic document storage may be recognised as delivering efficiency but not sustainability. On average it takes 500kwh of electricity to produce 200kg of paper, the average amount of paper each of us consume each year. This is equivalent to powering one computer continuously for five months.

The term 'Paperless' is also disingenuous. An online search emits 0.7g of CO2every search made whereas a business card emits less than 0.12g of CO2 over the card's entire lifetime.

I would be grateful if you would review any marketing communication your corporation is using, or intending to use, which may include misinformation on print and paper claims to ensure that in promoting your products and services you do not damage the Print and Paper industry and jeopardise the livelihood of the 350,000 people employed therein with misleading statements.

Please find included a Myths and Facts Booklet outlining the environmental credentials and effectiveness of paper and print as a communication vehicle, and I further encourage you to review the ACCC: Green marketing and the Australia Consumer Law, with regards to communications with environmental claims.

Two Sides Australia works successfully with many companies and we would welcome a meeting with your organisation where we can provide your team with all the facts about the sustainability of print media.

Yours Sincerely,

Kellie Northwood

National Manager