Copyright: zipcon consulting GmbH und Initiative Online Print e.V.
Months after announcing its intention to do away with printed brochures for sustainability reasons, supermarket chain, Rewe, is still facing opposition from a number of sides. No wonder, because print is being unjustly made the scapegoat by the company when it comes to sustainability. Zipcon and the Initiative Online Print (IOP) have compiled the facts on the sustainability of print and are sending out a clear signal against greenwashing with our new video clip. Because communication without print? #inconceivable
Rewe’s advertising not only wants to give the impression that print is outdated and that the future belongs solely to digital media – the message is also one-sided and simply wrong. The carbon footprint of digital technologies, including their energy-hungry server farms, their need for rare earth elements, and their power generation, which is often still based on fossil fuels, is swept under the rug.
That was reason enough for a fact check. After all, paper is not only a renewable, sustainable raw material, it is also the recycling world champion with a recycling rate of almost 90%. On the other hand, if you look at the values of digital technologies, print is anything but bad: because IT, cloud & co. are responsible for 5% to 9% of electricity consumption, which corresponds to 2% of global CO2 emissions. If energy demand continues as it is, this figure could rise to 14% by 2040. By comparison, according to the European Environment Agency’s “Annual European Union Greenhouse Gas Inventory”, the printing and paper industry is the smallest greenhouse gas emitter among the industries in Europe, with a share of 0.8 % of emissions. And in Germany, too, print accounts for just 1% of CO2 emissions per person.
But IOP and zipcon consulting see other flaws in the supermarket chain’s arguments. For example, they point out that there are still many people who either don’t have access to digital media, can’t handle it – or simply don’t have the chance to get mobile information due to poor network coverage in rural areas.
So why engage in such blunt greenwashing and bring an entire industry into disrepute, when print and digital complement each other so wonderfully today? Because, especially in the combination of both worlds, all individuals can be reached, regardless of origin, age or income. Everyone should be able to decide for themselves which media they prefer.
That is why the #inconceivable video clip by zipcon and the IOP is not only a strong plea for print, but above all a call to question the arguments and to classify them correctly. Of course, print is not emission-free either – and the efforts of the companies towards more sustainability are right and important! But selling cost-cutting measures as progress – and at the expense of an entire industry – is wrong and misleading. Even more: this is greenwashing and has nothing to do with sustainability. Especially due to the fact that brochures are made of 100 % recycled waste paper.
Bernd Zipper, CEO of zipcon and chairman of the board of IOP, points out the inconsistency in the Rewe campaign with further facts: “By the way, the group only eliminated the flyers at Rewe – but not at its other brands, Penny or Toom, which also belong to the Group. Why not, if this step was solely about sustainability? And why do so many Rewe advertisements currently appear in large daily newspapers – i.e. on paper?”