Greenwashing: The Deceit in Marketing?
With how apparent the effects of global warming to our life, people are becoming more conscious of the impact of their life activities on their surroundings. Nowadays, people do not only consider the price and quality of the products they buy but also if said products are safe for the environment. This attention encouraged companies to invent and improve products to be more environmentally friendly or ‘green’. While these movements are beneficial to our environment, another consideration arises on the authenticity and credibility of such claims. Claiming to be ‘green’ only for advertising and marketing purposes can be considered greenwashing.
According to the Oxford dictionary, greenwashing is activities by a company or an organization that is intended to make people think that it is concerned about the environment, even if its real business actually harms the environment.
Common forms of greenwashing include a public claim on the commitment to the environment while quietly lobbying to avoid regulation, misleading/false advertisement, or performing emission tests using defective products. Greenwashing can be harmful to the environment as it can mislead people into acting unsustainably. People who made an effort to buy eco-friendly products would purchase products from greenwashing companies not knowing that their actions inadvertently did the opposite. Corporate greenwashing can also harm businesses, whether they did it intentionally or not. Not only does the corporation's reputation negatively affected, but society as a whole will also be more skeptical of eco-friendly products and can lead to a drop in sales for products that are legitimately ‘green’.
One of the approaches to combat greenwashing is through verifications.
Groups or associations that verify the validity of a company’s sustainability claims could provide assurances to the consumers that their products are genuinely eco-friendly. Businesses that claim their sustainability and eco-friendliness would also have to prove their claim and improve their operations to provide quantifiable measurement on their commitment towards the environment. As the process of these verifications and validation requires quantifiable proofs, greenwashers will either have to change their way of conducting business or be discovered as deceptive and face the repercussion.
One such verification is the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) system.
The goal of EPD is to provide relevant, verified, and comparable information for customers and the market regarding the environmental impact of the product or service provided by a company or organization in a credible and understandable way. EPD will assess the environmental performance of the product or service from a life cycle perspective to cover every step of the product or service creation. The assessment would be conducted in accordance with various related standards, such as the ISO 14025, TS/14027, 14040, ISO 21930, EN 15804, etc. EPDs can be an indicator of a company or organization's commitment to measuring and reducing their environmental impact through a transparent, objective, and third-party verified report that shows the result truthfully, be it good or bad. With EPDs, consumers and the general market can be assured of the credibility of the products or services they purchase and not be concerned that they are contributing to harming the environment. (ML)