Don't Let Firms Whitewash Environmental Paper Claims; POLICY

Article excerpt

WE ALL want to help the environment and make the world a better place. But sometimes it's hard to know just where to start.

And while we're all doing our bit and becoming more environmentally aware, there are some companies out there who are using so called green policies as ways of cutting their own costs.

Some companies are now encouraging customers to only receive their bills online, stating that this is better for the environment.

While the efficiency of electronic communication is clear, the many "go paperless" initiatives may not be motivated purely by concern for the environment.

Two Sides, the UK initiative to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper, says that some companies are guilty of a greenwash - whereby they use unsubstantiated claims about the environment benefit of products or services usually for promotional benefit.

Greenwash messages, for example: "switch to e-billing because it's better for the environment", imply that consumers will be choosing a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly option than print and paper.

However, this can only be true if the reduction in paper use is not replaced with environmental costs elsewhere, such as customers' PCs and the server equipment necessary to deliver, receive and store e-bills. …