"Greenwashing"—over-promoting your "green" credentials—is one of today’s headline-grabbers. What are the facts? What’s right? What’s wrong? Who decides? Corporate Responsibility (CR) Magazine, a leading US publication, recently ran a webinar where two experts separated "green" from "greenwashing" in the graphic communications value chain. What does "sustainability" mean at the intersection of paper, printing and packaging? In the communications war between pixels and paper, which is really "green?" What are the metrics that matter? And how can you avoid "greenwashing" in your own print-versus-pixels business decisions?
CR Magazine Publisher and author of The Post-Carbon Economy Jay Whitehead chaired the no-holds-barred live discussion with two of the world’s top authorities on the pixels-versus-paper sustainability debate:
Martyn Eustace, Director of the Two Sides sustainability initiative took part in the debate, having recently been tackling the issue of “Greenwashing” with leading blue-chip companies including British Telecom (BT), British Gas and Standard Life. Not only does Martyn have some 30 years industry experience as a former CEO with leading national paper merchant groups Howard Smith Paper and Premier Paper, but he is also a member of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ turnaround panel, managing director of Newvizion, and worldwide expert in sustainability and effectiveness of the graphic communications value chain.
Martyn presented case study evidence to show how issues with companies such as BT and British Gas had been tackled and how, following lengthy discussions between Two Sides and BT, BT had changed their messaging and stopped using environmentally incorrect messages on their material such as customer statements and their website.
Also taking part in the debate on behalf of the industry was Lewis Fix. Lewis is VP Brand Management & Sustainable Product Development at Domtar Paper. Lewis is broadly published on the topic of sustainable paper and forest products and manages company relations with the many NGOs in the environmental and forest management communities. Lewis is also a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) pioneer and launched “Truth in Paper”. He has been with Domtar for eight years and seen 14 of Domtar’s 15 mills become FSC certified.
During his presentation, Lewis highlighted what he referred to as the “Six Sins of Greenwashing”. These included elements such as vagueness, irrelevance, fibbing and no proof, all of which have added to the use of Greenwashing by leading international companies.
The one-hour debate highlighted that there is still a lot of work to do if “Greenwashing” is to be removed, but more importantly that companies that are putting out these messages need to be tackled and engaged, as endorsed by Martyn during his contribution.
CR Magazine’s webinar series is widely recognised for bringing today’s hottest sustainability and responsibility topics right to your desktop. There were a large number of participants from corporate and public sector organisations in North America and beyond.