Survey Shows How Consumers Perceive Print, Paper, and Environmental Concerns

As digital publishing has increased, paper manufacturers have kept a close eye on the shifting demand for paper and printed communications. Paper companies are also keenly interested if outdated assumptions about the environmental impact of paper have affected demand.

Two Sides North America recently published the results of an independent survey in which consumers throughout the U.S. were asked about environmental topics and preferences related to paper and print.

The survey was commissioned by Two Sides and conducted by the independent research company Toluna. In the U.S., 2,094 consumers were surveyed. In Canada, 1,044 consumers participated.

A few of the findings are highlighted below:

The Environment

It is clear from the survey that consumers are concerned about the environment. But there are some obvious gaps between consumer environmental perceptions and the real facts. This is particularly evident for questions related to forest management and recycling.

  • 58% of U.S. consumers surveyed believe U.S. forests have been decreasing in size since the year 2000. In fact, U.S. forests had a net growth of over 1,500 NFL football fields per day since 2000.
  • Only 15% of Americans and 21% of Canadians think the paper recovery rate exceeds 60% when it is over 68% in the U.S and 70% in Canada.
  • Out of 6 choices, Americans and Canadians rank urban development (first), construction (second) and pulp and paper (third) as having the most impact on global deforestation. Agriculture was ranked as having the least impact.

In fact, agriculture is the top cause of global deforestation. And in most developed countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, pulp and paper is not a cause of forest loss because companies comply with government regulations, sustainable forestry practices and forest certification programs.

When it comes to paper purchasing behavior, 70% of Americans and Canadians believe it is important to use paper products from sustainably managed forests. However, only 22 to 27% pay attention to forest certification labels when purchasing paper.

Out of 8 common materials and products, wood is considered the most environmentally friendly material, followed by paper and glass. Plastic and electronic devices are considered the least environmentally friendly.


When it comes to reading books, magazines and newspapers, print is preferred over digital.

  • 68% of Americans and Canadians believe print is the most enjoyable way to read books
  • 65% of Americans and 59% of Canadians prefer to read magazines in print
  • 53% of Americans and 49% of Canadians prefer to read newspapers in print

In terms of preferences for receiving billing statements, most respondents said they would like to be able to choose whether to have their billing statements delivered in print or electronically.

  • 82% of Canadians and 86% of Americans believe they should have the right to choose how they receive their communications (electronically or printed)
  • 66% (Canada) to 74% (U.S.) agree they should not be charged to receive paper statements.

“It is great to see that print as a communications medium is still preferred by many consumers. Clearly, people also recognize the sustainable features of paper when compared to many other products, especially electronics and plastic. However, there is a need to educate consumers on sustainable forestry practices, the real causes of deforestation and the great recycling story of print and paper,” states Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America.

Download a copy of the results of the survey of U.S. consumers here and the survey of Canada consumers here.

More survey data and fact sheets about the environmental sustainability of paper are available on the Two Sides website.