Two Sides reacted angrily to statements in a document from the European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN), a group of non-profit organisations focused on the paper industry, that, Two Sides claimed, accused the paper industry of damaging the environment.

Two Sides director Martyn Eustace said allegations on the sustainability of the paper and associated industries needed to be substantiated or retracted from EEPN’s Paper Facts.

“EEPN, among a number of questionable assertions and claims, falsely states the paper industry is responsible for ‘a wide range of harmful environmental impacts’, ‘negative social impacts’ and ‘human rights abuses’,” said Eustace.

Two Sides representatives ‘doorstepped’ an EEPN conference in London yesterday (10 July) on how to reduce paper usage in business to challenge EEPN’s “exaggerated claims”, distributing Two Sides’ Print & Paper, Myths & Facts briefing document to delegates.

Eustace pointed out in Europe there were 2.7m people working in the pulp, paper, envelope and printing industries with an estimated turnover of over €173bn. In the UK alone, he said, the industries employed 158,000 people and had a turnover of £21bn.

He said: “The issue here is this is not an academic or fun spat between NGOs: we have enormous numbers of people in Europe employed in the industry. If people go around rubbishing what you do it puts livelihoods at stake.

“We won’t take legal action, but what we can do is get the correct information in to the public arena and try to make sure a balanced view is received by everybody out there.”

Eustace admitted isolated problems could be found in parts of the Far East, but “firmly disputed” the implied scale of the impacts raised by EEPN. He added that Two Sides would support EEPN if its efforts were focused on areas of genuine concern.

EEPN campaigner for rainforests in Indonesia Sergio Baffoni said: “There are many points of view and different ways of putting together figures. The important thing is we are open to discussion.

“We were surprised about their intention to inflame the matter and want to stress the need to reduce overconsumption and wasteful consumption. Paper is a great product, but it is not valued enough in the market and should be respected more.”

Two Sides promotes the graphic communication chain including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing and printing. Membership spans Europe, the US and Australia.