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Environmental group challenges Toshiba on greenwashing

June 14, 2012

The OEM’s pledge of 23 October as “National No-Print Day” has been dismissed as greenwashing by Two Sides.

GraphicRepro reports that environmental initiative Two Sides, which represents the Graphic Communication Value Chain of companies involved in each stage of printing, has challenged Toshiba’s “No Print Day” plan, calling it “greenwash”.

Two Sides’ goals are “to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper” as well as to “dispel common environmental misconceptions” by answering “why print and paper is […] attractive, practical and sustainable”. Its challenge to Toshiba is that its idea for “No Print Day” constitutes “one of the most blatant examples of greenwashing” it has seen.

Toshiba America Business Solutions proposes “to ‘raise awareness of the impact printing has on our planet’ and of ‘the role of paper in the workplace’”, which Two Sides claims is “asking people and companies not to print or copy anything that day”, and is “backed up by a number of contentious and unsourced claims designed to support this ill-conceived initiative”.

Among the flaws found in Toshiba’s campaign are that it “seems to have ignored the environmental impact of electronic communications” as “saying you are eliminating print and paper really does not mean you are necessarily helping the planet”, with Greenpeace’s findings that “electronic waste [is] the fast growing component of the municipal waste stream”.

Two Sides continues by noting Toshiba links paper use to deforestation, contending that “responsibly made paper can be a sustainable way to communicate”, and in Europe “paper is a highly recycled commodity […] does Toshiba recycle its products so effectively? We think not”.

Whilst “paper is based on wood, a natural and renewable material”, Toshiba’s electronic equipment, including its printer cartridges, “are made mostly from non-renewable resources and are not so easily recycled”, and the group stated: “Has Toshiba considered the life cycle of all of its own products before professing expertise on others?”

Two Sides also questioned whether Toshiba consulted employees who “manufacture, sell and distribute copiers, printers and toner cartridges” on what they think, and “openly challenges Toshiba’s claims and would like to understand” if the OEM has “taken into account verifiable and accurate environmental facts” about printing and paper. The group concludes by noting it does “not usually comment on the comparative environmental performance of other industries” but “cannot let this unwarranted attack on our industry go unanswered”.

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