Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No Thrillah in Manilla: Paperless 2013 Founder Going Down for the Count

Manilla, a Paperless 2013 sponsor that aimed to save people from the horrors of printed and mailed bills, is throwing in the towel, according to TechCrunch.

Unable, in the words of its own ads, to get its "s**t toghether," the three-year-old Hearst unit will start winding down on June 30 and shut down completely on Sept. 30. (The 2013 article Killah in Manilla: Hearst's Green Reputation Tarnished by Subsidiary examined the company's questionable environmental claims.)

Manilla, along with Google, was one of seven sponsors of the controversial Paperless 2013 greenwashing campaign that was supposedly about helping the environment but was actually about bringing the sponsors more green stuff.

Without providing any data or analysis, the anti-paper campaign claimed that businesses become more environmentally friendly when they switch to cloud computing and other paperless processes.

The campaign used the hashtag "Paperless 2013" in social media, but environmentalists and print advocates staged a "hashtag takeover" to counter the campaign's self-serving and misleading claims.

Manilla's CEO said its sponsorship was “truly representative of Manilla’s overall mission ... to help improve the environment by reducing the overall use of paper.” But like the campaign, Manilla never documented how its services helped the environment -- or revealed anything about its own environmental practices.

The start-up's claims were an odd departure from those of its parent company, which is one of the world's largest buyers of publication papers and which has provided extensive reporting of its aggressive and carefully documented environmental efforts.

I'll state my position again: There are legitimate reasons to convert some paper-based functions to digital media. But don't make assertions about "going green" by going paperless without providing evidence, because digital media have a significant environmental footprint.


Joe Fanelli, CEO said...

We at New Leaf Paper applaud your position about the validity of certain "going green" assertions made without regard to a comprehensive perspective on green and that play on the perception thereof in order to gain an advantage over a misinformed consumer. The "significant environmental footprint" of digital media notwithstanding there are, in fact, "legitimate reasons" to convert certain paper based functions to digital media though we will never attain a true "paperless" world. This very blog is an example - I am not using paper to write you a letter, however when we do use paper we believe not only in its responsible use but in the use of responsible paper. New Leaf produces premium coated and uncoated papers using only 100% Post Consumer Waste, some of which waste are the very "horrors of printed and mailed bills". We do not, however, cut down any trees in their manufacture. We believe in paying those horrific mailed bills forward by recycling them so we can make them into paper for a beautiful travel brochure or a fashion magazine. We want you to feel good about using paper again ...and again. Thank you for being a sane voice in the too often emotional world of "green". -Joe Fanelli, CEO, New Leaf Paper, A Public Benefit Corp.

Anonymous said...

Oh horror of horrors a tree has been cut to make paper. Gimme a break. As a consulting forester working in the Northeast I am extremely grateful for the pulp markets we have had all of these years for our low grade wood fiber. Without them, many of the long term silviculture goals that my clients wanted to achieve would never have been met profitably - let alone at all.

Anonymous said...

To all the paperless/green lovers:

Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product. Working forests provide millions of jobs, clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Choose paper sourced from Independently Certified sustainable forests and recycle.

Please stop teaching our children that using printed paper products is wrong.

Anonymous said...

It is no different than the misrepresentation hunters get when it comes to hunting. Without hunters the wildlife in this country would not be protected, hunters were in the forefront of protection for animals.

Same for trees, without forestry people planting trees to replace what they cut, who would be out there replanting forests? They burn down everyday and there is not much effort to replace those trees. The forestry industry as a whole have planted far more trees than they have cut down. I read a report a few years ago there are more trees now in America than there was in the early 1900's, so yes stop with the misinformation!

Anonymous said...

Since when did NewLeaf start making paper?