The booklet states that although the European paper industry uses sustainably-sourced raw materials and renewable energy with better recycling rates, myths around paper are still prevalent among consumers. "When it comes to the sustainability of print and paper, it's important to separate the facts from the myths," it stated.
A survey conducted by Two Sides in 2019 revealed 59% of European consumers believe European forests are shrinking, when in fact they have been growing by an area equivalent to 1,500 football pitches every day. This is one of the myths debunked in the booklet.
Other myths busted in the publication include 'Paper is bad for the environment', 'Only recycled paper should be used', 'Paper production is a major cause of global greenhouse gas emissions' and 'Electronic communication is better for the environment than paper-based communication'.
Key facts highlighted include “Europe is a world leader in paper recycling – 72.3% of paper is recycled”, “42% of the EU-28 is covered by wooded areas making it one of the most forest-rich regions in the world” and “72% of consumers surveyed worldwide prefer to read the printed version of books”.
The booklet stated that a third of consumers believe, paper is a wasteful product and a quarter believes paper is bad for the environment. According to Two Sides, the source of these misconceptions is the abundance of misleading information about paper and its impact on the environment. The group has been trying to foster a better understanding of the industry's environmental credentials with a range of campaigns including Love Paper campaign and Anti-Greenwash campaign.
Two Sides country manager Greg Selfe told PrintWeek: “With the Myths & Facts booklet we focus on a lot of the key information to the Two Sides campaign: recycling, forest growth and renewable energy.
“It’s really about gathering all of the industry research from CEPI, FAO and all those other bodies and putting all of the information into a document that is as easy to digest as possible. Our members and the wider industry value it because it does answer those questions that are asked about print and paper in a simple fashion.”
The 24-page A5 booklet is one of the key resources of the Two Sides campaign. Moreover, members of Two Sides can personalise the booklet by adding their company's logo to the front cover, corporate images and text to the inside cover, which could then become a tool to share with customers, staff and stakeholders in the industry. The booklet is available to download from Two Sides website.
“This booklet is really the foundation for a lot of the topics we cover, and what we have done in the last year or two in particular is look at how we can convert this information into other assets," Selfe said.
“We’ve produced ‘factographics’, mini videos and other online tools that can again be co-branded and easily shared on social media. It’s about using this as part of a suite of tools that are available to our members in the industry through print and online to help spread these messages as far and wide as possible.”
What the industry insiders have to say
Meanwhile, some of the leading players from the printing and packaging industry spoke to PrintWeek India, highlighting their views on the 'green-ness' of the paper industry.
Tejas Samarth, Sai Packs
There are several other sources of pollutants and gases that give rise to global warming. But, why only the paper industry is blamed? Paper industry has been blamed for global warming for past several years. According to me, when compared to plastic, paper will be sustainable as it is made from renewable source and it is easily biodegradable.
Paper production is not a major cause for environmental destruction. What about other emission levels, which are causing pollution? There are some printers who are seriously thinking and working on this issue. I believe if all converters across the country come together and discuss the issue, we could solve almost 70% of the problems.
Anoop Venugopal, Anaswara Offset
Paper, as a raw material, is considered to be 100% Green when compared to alternative use of other mediums of communications. Paper is the most easiest to recycle. Paper stands the philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle (3R) and most importantly in a responsible way.
Trees used for paper manufacturing are replanted by the paper mills roughly to the ratio of 1:10. To increase sustainability factor, research is happening in genetically modified trees where the afforestation will be quicker. Some international bodies like FSC and PEFC, too, give certified afforestation of the trees used for paper manufacturing.
That is exactly what Two Sides report is pointing to. If you can follow the 3R's in a responsible way, then paper is one of the greenest products on earth. As per the report, switching to e-bills and similar moves will only help big corporations in reducing their cost, but actually e-waste and managing huge servers is a major threat to the environment where the 3R cycle is difficult to put to practice.
Overall, using paper is better in-terms of the amount of CO2 emissions produced than many other modes.