Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 Questions About Toshiba's No-Print Day

Update: Toshiba pulled the plug on its campaign. See 9 Lessons from Toshiba's No-Print Day Debacle for the full story.
 In a stunning display of greenwashing and ignorance, a U.S. branch of Toshiba has proclaimed October 23 National No-Print Day.

To raise awareness “of the impact printing has on our planet” and of "the role of paper in the workplace,” Toshiba America Business Solutions is asking people and companies not to print or copy anything that day.

"We know that approximately 336,000,000 sheets of paper are wasted daily -- that's more than 40,000 trees discarded every day in America,” Bill Melo, a Toshiba America vice president, said this week in announcing the effort.

The company is promoting the campaign with a series of web videos featuring Tree, an “affable spokescharacter” and alleged Toshiba employee. Viewers are asked to sign a pledge to give Tree “and his leafy colleagues” the day off.

The first video has a goof: Tree is shown marking Oct. 23 on a paper calendar. (Dude, that could be your cousin you’re writing on.) But even more serious are the questions Toshiba needs to answer, such as:
  1. What is the source of that statistic about 336 million sheets of paper wasted every day, and what exactly do you mean by “wasted”?
  2. According to that statistic, one tree is “discarded” for every 8300 sheets -- less than 90 pounds of office paper -- that is "wasted". But only one-third of that 90 pounds comes from whole trees; the rest is from sawmill residue and recycled fiber. What idiot is getting a yield of only 30 pounds of paper from an entire tree?
  3. Paper is made mostly from renewable resources and has a high recycling rate. Ink and toner cartridges, including those with the Toshiba brand, are made mostly from non-renewable resources and are not often recycled. Have you considered that much of printing’s impact on our planet has nothing to do with paper usage?
  4. Why is it necessarily better for the planet to read a report on an electricity-burning computer than on sheets of paper?
  5. You promise to plant some trees if we take the pledge. Will Toshiba actually plant the trees, or are you paying someone else to plant them? Where will the trees be planted? What will happen to the land if no one takes the pledge?
  6. You imply that the harvesting of trees is inherently evil. If private landowners can no longer make money from trees, they’ll seek other uses of their land. Would it be better if they planted wheat? Or maybe shopping centers?
  7. American farmers “discard” far more than 40,000 corn plants every day in the process of harvesting them. Are you going to organize a No Corn, Ethanol, or Grain-Fed Meat Day?
  8. Toshiba makes a variety of electronic products. Are you planning to celebrate a No-Toxic-Materials-in-Laptops Day?
  9. If we take the pledge to give Tree a day off, how are we supposed to blow our noses on Oct. 23? And will Toshiba America offices remove the toilet paper from their restrooms that day?
  10. Why the hell did Toshiba just exhibit at Drupa, the world’s largest trade fair for printers, if one of its divisions was going to turn around and publicly trash the entire printing industry?
Other articles about greenwashing and paper include:


Anonymous said...

I think we should organize a Toshiba boycott. I personally will never buy anything from this company.

There are so many factual errors here, I don't know where to start.

Anonymous said...

I won't buy Toshiba products either....

Anonymous said...

Why did "save a tree" get such support when "save the corn" would have been laughable. Maybe if 2x4's & paper tasted better or corn plants took longer to grow or were taller there would be less objection to trees being planted and harvested?

I've often wondered why no one cries for the corn! Cruel savages we are.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the cojones to tie my name to it, but I have a great rebuttal tweet: "I'm going to help Toshiba mislead people about how paper is made. You should too. Join the disinformation movement and take the National No Print day pledge #FSCAnyone? #paperisrenewable,dummy! #don'ttrusteverythingyouread #DoYourHomeworkToshiba

Anonymous said...

That is it! NO Toshiba or machines with Toshiba components should be bought by our industry. A list of products that have Toshiba components needs to be created so we do not unknowing buy their products. This is irresponsible and should instead be replaced by proper paper use and recycling initiatives. What about all of the old electronic units they have produced? will they send me a package so I can send it back to them at their cost so they can dispose of it properly in a green compliant way?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't/Didn't Toshiba make web presses?

Jim Olsen said...

Say what?

Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc. (TABS) Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation (TANE)
Headquarters: Irvine, CA Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina
Toshiba America Business Solutions Inc. manages product planning, marketing, sales, service support and distribution of copiers, facsimiles, multifunction printing products, network controllers, and toner products throughout the United States , Mexico , Latin America, and the Caribbean . TABS has four divisions: the Electronic Imaging Division; the Toner Products Division; the Document Solutions Engineering Division; and TOPAC U.S.A., Inc., dba Toshiba Business Solutions (TBS), a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation of TABS, that operates a network of wholly owned office equipment dealers throughout the United States. TABS has a production facility in Mitchell , SD , where it manufactures toner for photocopiers.

Major Products:
Document Management
Toner Product

Anonymous said...

For some reason the marketing geniuses who thought this up probably had a meeting about paper that went like this:
"We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!"
Oh wait... that's from Animal House...
The commercial printing business has lost nearly 400,000 jobs in the last 15 years and about $50 billion in annual revenues. Look at what's happened to postal volume, too. The economic carnage to print isn't enough yet? The person who thought up this campaign, and the people who approved it can't think past their noses... and now those have to wiped with their shirt sleeves.

Margie Dana said...

Bravo for this post. Trash talk by Toshiba. It disgusts me. Trying to fan the flames on faux-PC "print-is-bad" philosophy. Some lunatic PR person evidently convinced Toshiba head honchos that this insane, made up event would bring them public praise.

ha! it backfired badly!

Margie Dana said...

This disgusts me! Evidently, some crazed PR person at Toshiba thought the faux "Paper is bad" philosophy would turn this insane event into a public relations coup for Toshiba.

Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Here's the test for industry resolve: What if the paper companies chose not to sell Toshiba office paper, or toilet even just toilet paper for a month?

If they refuse, boycot the paper vendors.

Scott Culpepper said...

Memo to Bill Melo: Really??

BoSacks said...

Maybe they were kidding. Nah… I’m kidding saying they were kidding.

It’s a bigger issue than at first it seems. Our industry has never put forth the full effort to explain itself. If it did, it did it as poorly as Toshiba. The public thinks we cut down virgin forests. That is the real issue here – tree farming, renewable industry. We are tree savers, not tree murderers. Deaddy and I have started to talk about this behind the scenes, ( No, I don’t know who he or she is,) and I am planning to create a “think tank” on the subject. Clearly there is much work to be done.

High on my list is “sustainability”. What brainchild thought that would resonate with the general public? That word should be kept in the lab where it was developed.

“Got milk” resonates.

“ the Other White Meat” resonates.

Sustainability is a joke, not the process, the pitch and the delivery of it. We got work to do people.


Joshua Martin said...

Perhaps there a more balanced middle ground, between Toshiba's oversimplified and perhaps not fully considered marketing campaign and the "All paper is touched by God, babies and cute puppies" backlash that is reflected in the comments.

A thought provoking article, however, point #2 is misleading in saying only 30% comes from "whole trees." In fact, much of the remaining non-recycled fiber is not sawdust from mill residue but woodchips from forest logging activities, according to the same document the author cites.

Let's be honest on all sides about paper's value and paper's impact and put our energy into leadership actions that provide more responsible products that meet the needs of the multi-faceted world we live in today. See some of the ones that are doing it now at:

Joshua Martin said...

I meant to also add, in defense of the business logic of Toshiba and overall innovation of Toshiba, that respected figures from within the paper industry itself, including Lewis Fix of Domtar Paper, have taken steps to position themselves as leaders that earn new business through forging more comprehensive partnerships and providing not only products but cost savings through efficiencies at the same time.

See this recent article from Mr. Fix, entitled, Why Should a Paper Company Help People Consume Less Paper?:

Anonymous said...

Once again, BoSacks hits the nail on the head - a memorable message is needed for the forest products industry, one that promotes the true "sustainability" of tree harvesting and the reality that the forest product industry is here to stay. The big story is not an easy one to communicate - Mr. Martin's points are well taken - while Toshiba's message was misguided, it was an attempt to take what they thought was a positive position. Consumer demand continues to drive companies (whether paper companies, printers, publishers, or fax makers!)and each tries to formulate their message based on a marketing group's mantra or a lead team's delusions. Again, a common message is needed - something to rally around. Keep the push going BoSacks...

Barbara Schmitz said...

Toshiba's marketing campaign is actually quite successful, regardless of how ill-conceived the message may be. Look at all of the international postings, rebuttals, and conversation it has sparked.

Jim T said...

The Toshiba campaign was obviously started by an ignorant person that jumped on a cute and trendy bandwagon. I disagree with Joshua Martin that people here are taking the tone that “all paper is touched by God…” When Toshiba puts out blatantly misleading information, is it wrong for people who know better to call them on it? Attacking paper as the supposed source of all the environmental woes of our planet has become the “go to” cause for those that have an overwhelming need to alter the behavior of others. All the while never researching the cause they have so much “devotion” for. They’ll soon tire of this cause and move on to another, never aware of or caring about the destruction left in their wake.

There have been wars fought over less. So I applaud those here that actually stand up and voice their opinions and are resolute in the defense of a wrongly maligned industry.

Tony Hodgson said...

I think it's a great idea. Just imagine, one day a year with no print at all - everybody would quickly realise how much they still depend on it. I feel sorry for Toshiba - there are already 365 No-Toshiba days a year in most people's lives and who cares or even notices?

Anonymous said...

Eadward, you are brilliant. As a forest products industry reporter, I look forward to your blogs. But this one made me actually put my coffee down for fear of spitting it. Thanks for the laughs, and you are spot-on with this latest glorious tirade.

Mariah Hunt said...

Are they kidding? No, then they are just ignorant. This whole campaign goes to show that even the best intentions have a way of going bad without some good research (or even some brains) !

I bet some cute little 12 year old (internet only) PR kid came up with this one.

Way to piss people off Toshiba! Have you checked in lately to see where your REAL REVENUE is coming from lately?

Anonymous said...

Cough, snort, fart, chuckle....

Whitney said...

As others have said, the true waste from business printing comes from the waste left from the print devices themselves.

As a former Staples employee, I have seen first-hand the waste that toner cartridges alone produce. When you factor in packacking (styrofoam!), it is incredibly wasteful.

On top of that, many companies buy desktop printers and laser jets, use them until they wear out in a couple of years and then toss them. It would be very interesting to see the percentage of landfill space taken up by dead printers.

Of all the printing companies, Xerox is the closest to being able to consider themselves "green." Their solid ink technology uses 90% less waste than traditional cartridge technology. However, the print industry still has a long way to go.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Im in class.