Five tips to avoid “greenwashing” when marketing paper products

“Greenwashing” is now a term most of us are familiar with.  It means “the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service or technology.” Terrachoice[i] found that over 95% of “greener” products commit one or more of the seven “Sins of Greenwashing,” so it’s a major problem in the marketplace.  Paper products in particular seem to suffer from many unsubstantiated and vague claims, especially when it comes to corporations trying to promote electronic services over paper-based communications.

The bottom line is that corporate marketers need to follow certain specific guidelines for environmental marketing, such as those published by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission[ii], and in Canada by the Competition Bureau of Canada[iii].  If they don’t, their company could face corrective action by the FTC[iv].  The International Standardization Organization (ISO) also has a series of standards on environmental declarations (ISO 14020) and has classified environmental claims into three categories – Type I, Type II and Type III.
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