Two Sides has said that its latest study, Paper’s Place in a Post-Pandemic World, has revealed that there are still misconceptions about the environmental impact of the paper industry.

The study, which Two Sides says aimed to understand changing consumer perceptions towards print, paper, paper packaging and tissue products, revealed that 59% of UK consumers believing that European forests are shrinking. In reality, between 2005 and 2020, European forests grew by 58,390km2 – an area larger than Switzerland and equivalent to 1500 football pitches every day.

The survey also revealed that only 9% of UK consumers knew that European forests are growing, and that 18-24 year olds were the most ill informed, with 69% of that demographics thinking forests are shrinking.

Another common misconception about the paper industry is the amount of paper that’s recycled. The survey found that just 17% of UK consumers believe the paper recycling rate exceeds 60%. Furthermore, 46% believe that paper and paper packaging is wasteful. In reality, Europe’s paper recycling rate is currently 72%, with paper packaging even higher at 84%.

When it comes to electronic communication, which has naturally seen accelerated growth in the past year, Two Sides believes that the the environmental impact of digital communications has been overlooked.

According the the report, paper and print products are among the lowest greenhouse gas emitters at 0.8% whereas, the ICT industry accounts for 2.5 – 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and this is predicted to rise to 14% by 2040. Despite this, 66% of consumers surveyed thought electronic communications were more environmentally friendly than paper communication.

‘This report shows there are many environmental misconceptions surrounding print and paper products,’ says Jonathan Tame, managing director of Two Sides Europe. ‘Many consumers believe that European forests are shrinking in size, massively underestimate the paper recycling rate, and do not understand the sustainable nature of paper products. These misunderstandings make the work we do with Two Sides and Love Paper even more vital.’