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Industry activists target anti-paper website

Tuesday, 19 January 2010
By Print 21 Online Article

Bias and factual errors in the promotion of the Paperless Alliance may prompt complaint to ACCC.

A stoush has broken out between the organisers of the industry-backed paper – part of everyday campaign and the high profile founder and chair of the Paperless Alliance, Jon Dee. Claims of a series of factual errors and misleading information about paper and printing on the organisation’s website have prompted a slanging match.

The initial complaint came from Tim Woods, organiser of the industry pushback campaign, paper – part of everyday, who asked for the Paperless Alliance to withdraw misleading claims. In a letter to Dee, published in The Australian newspaper, he says it is necessary for the website to be amended “as a matter of urgency.”

To demonstrate you are serious about sustainability and to limit the extent to which your website is misleading, we recommend that you withdraw the website until such time as you have made the necessary amendments. As this is a simple interim measure, it would be appropriate for this to occur immediately.

The complaint centres on the perceived failure of the Paperless Alliance to include the significant environmental impact of digital companies and computers, servers and monitors etc. when comparing electronic and digital communications.

Woods makes the point that it is a requirement of the Trade Practices legislation that comparative green claims must take into account the whole product life cycle. He claims the PA fails to do so in its campaign to promote electronic communication over printing.

In his letter he says… The comparisons you make between paper and print and digital require you to ensure there is balance and that the comparisons you provide are accurate. You have singularly failed in meeting this obligation.

Woods also raised the question as to whether PA’s sponsorships were simply a form of advertising for, among others, Adobe and Toshiba. He questions  the organisation’s not-for-profit claims.

In a response Dee told a journalist from the newspaper that he did not worry “about this ridiculous attempt to question my motivation on environmental matters. They should certainly be careful in what they say as I will not hesitate to take legal action if they say anything that could defame me or question my integrity.
"As it stands, the campaign sponsorship that we get in does not cover the full costs of running this campaign."

The whole issue is likely to be referred to the ACCC.

The paper – part of everyday campaign is financed by the Australasian Paper Industry Association Limited.

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