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'Greenwashing' companies forced to drop marketing claims

UK corporations accused of "greenwashing" have been stopped in their tracks by a campaign led by the paper and communications industries.

Companies' marketing messages have been promoting the lower cost of electronic billing and services as a way of helping the environment but campaigners in the group Two Sides, said this was misleading and incorrect. Two Sides argue that using paper does not harm the environment as the majority of paper production is sustainable.

Of the major corporate, utilities, banking and telecoms companies targeted by Two Sides, 82 per cent have stopped issuing warnings to customers about the use of paper. HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland are among those to have adjusted their material.

Many large businesses have been accused of various levels of greenwashing – the deceptive use of green PR or marketing in order to promote goods and services – over the past 20 years. This is thought to be the first successful campaign to change a group of companies' marketing material.

Two Sides was launched to stop companies from misleading consumers on the reasons to switch to direct debits. It was set up by a group of paper manufacturers.