The perpetual question of print vs environmental sustainability generates a lot of discussion.
On the whole, the easy perception is printing is a bit like an environmental Godzilla that cuts swathes through forests with reckless abandon. But this is not the case. As an industry that faces more negative press than most, its done a lot to put sustainable practices in place. In Australia alone, we have paper recovery rates of 87%.
With a lot of companies now charging extra for consumers to have the choice of receiving a paper bill, some interesting statistics can be found on the Two Sides website.
These statistics open the dialogue in pursuit of a more balanced approach to how we view print sustainability right now.

The majority of Australian consumers value paper but environmental misunderstandings persist

Results of a new survey conducted by Toluna Inc. show that a majority of Australians want to retain a choice for paper options rather than be forced into “digital-only” communications.

Citing environmental concerns, corporations and governments are increasingly driving communications online and making paper more difficult, and costly, to access. A new survey provides valuable insights into how consumers view this trend, and how they perceive and use paper in their daily lives.

Carried out by international research company Toluna in June 2016, the survey questioned more than 7000 consumers worldwide (532 of them in Australia). Among its findings, the survey reveals that many consumers want to retain the choice of using print and paper, at no additional cost, and that many question or feel misled by “go paperless – go green” and similar “greenwash” claims – believing cost savings to be the primary driver for organisations looking to phase out paper-based communications.

Despite some concern over environmental impacts, many respondents preferred paper-based communications to digital alternatives, with ease of reading and a lack of internet access among the many reasons given.

A lack of awareness around the industry’s positive environmental activities (especially sustainable forest management and recycling) persists. Despite Australian forests growing in size by 308,000 hectares in the last 5 years, consumers are concerned about the effect on forests by the production of print and paper. “Educating consumers on practices within the paper industry is required, as consumers are unaware that 82% of paper consumed is from planted forests,” says Kellie Northwood, Executive Director of Two Sides Australia. The majority of respondents were also unaware that paper is one of the most recycled products with recovery rates of 87% in Australia.

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