The results of a new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America, Chicago, Illinois, reveal insight into the public’s perceptions and attitudes toward print and paper.
Carried out by independent research company Toluna, consumers from across the US (n=2,094) and Canada (n=1,044) were surveyed on environmental topics and preferences relating to paper and print.
It is clear from the survey that consumers are concerned about the environment, but there are some obvious gaps between consumer environmental perceptions and the real facts. This is particularly evident for questions related to forest management and recycling.
- 58% of US consumers surveyed believe US forests have been decreasing in size since the year 2000. In fact, US forests had a net growth of over 1,500 NFL football fields per day since 2000.
- Only 15% of Americans and 21% of Canadians think the paper recovery rate exceeds 60% when it is over 68% in the US and 70% in Canada.
Out of six choices, Americans and Canadians rank urban development (first), construction (second), and pulp and paper (third) as having the most impact on global deforestation. Agriculture was ranked as having the least impact. However, agriculture is the top cause of global deforestation and, in most developed countries such as the US and Canada, pulp and paper is not a cause of forest loss due to government regulations, sustainable forestry practices and forest certification programs.
When it comes to paper purchasing behavior, 70% of Americans and Canadians believe it is important to use paper products from sustainably managed forests. However, only 22-27% pay attention to forest certification labels when purchasing paper.
Out of eight common materials and products, wood is considered the most environmentally-friendly material, followed by paper and glass. Plastic and electronic devices are considered the least environmentally friendly.
When it comes to reading books, magazines and newspapers, print is preferred over digital.
- 68% of Americans and Canadians believe print is the most enjoyable way to read books
- 65% of Americans and 59% of Canadians prefer to read magazines in print
- 53% of Americans and 49% of Canadians prefer to read newspapers in print
Further to print being the preferred medium for reading, the digital push by many corporate service providers (ex: banks, telecoms, utilities, insurance) appears to be unpopular with many consumers. 82% of Canadians and 86% of Americans believe they should have the right to choose how they receive their communications (electronically or printed), and a further 66% (Canada) to 74% (US) agree they should not be charged to receive paper statements.
“It is great to see that print as a communications medium is still preferred by many consumers. Clearly, people also recognize the sustainable features of paper when compared to many other products, especially electronics and plastic. However, there is a need to educate consumers on sustainable forestry practices, the real causes of deforestation and the great recycling story of print and paper,” stated Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America.
Other key findings from the reports
- 71% of Americans and 68% of Canadians believe in the importance of “switching off” their digital devices and reading more in print.
- 49% of US and 46% of Canadian consumers believe they spend too much time on electronic devices, and over half (53% and 52%) are concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health.
- 85% of US and 80% of Canadian consumers believe they should have the right to revert to paper-based communications even after switching to digital.
- 54% of US and 56% of Canadian consumers believe only recycled paper should be used to make paper products. In fact, wood fiber from well-managed forests is essential to papermaking because recycled fiber breaks down after each use and can only be re-used five to seven times.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
- 29% of US and 26% of Canadian consumers believe paper production is a major cause of global GHG emissions. In fact, the pulp, paper and print industries are a low contributor to the global greenhouse gas inventory with 1% of total global GHG emissions.
For more information, visit www.twosidesna.org.