Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green or Greenwash?

Today's Sydney Morning Herald had a front page story on how two of LG Electronics fridges were found to be not as energy efficient as they claimed. In fact the story suggested that they had installed a devices that activates an energy saving mode when the fridge detects room conditions similiar to those of a test laboratory.
Green fridge labelled a fraud

LG Electronics has agreed to compensate potentially thousands of consumers after two of its fridges - models L197NFS and P197WFS - were found to contain an illegal device that activates an energy-saving mode when it detects room conditions similar to those in a test laboratory.

It is the third time LG Electronics has been caught making false claims about the environmental credentials of its products. In 2008, it had to repay $3 million after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruled it had inflated the energy-efficiency star rating of five models of air-conditioner. Source (SMH)

I wondered what other greenwash had been 'discovered' in Australia. After a very quick google search, I found the following:
GreenPower retailer led investors astray: ACCC
Global Green Plan Ltd, using the name GreenSwitch, was deregistered from the national GreenPower program in September 2008 for failing to buy enough renewable energy certificates, but it continued to trade through its website until November. The company will now have to buy 4000 renewable energy certificates to make up the shortfall. ''The ACCC investigated the GreenSwitch activities and found the numbers didn't match up,'' the acting chairman of the ACCC, Michael Schaper, said. ''To take money from customers and not use it as it was intended is simply unacceptable.''    Source (SMH)

          Greenwash: company guilty of misleading claims
A carbon credits company, Prime Carbon, has been found guilty by the Federal Court of Australia of making misleading green claims. Prime Carbon is a private company that produces and trades carbon credits created through soil enhancement and carbon sequestration programs.  Source (SMH)

Regulator demands muscle on 'green' ads
Graeme Samuel, the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, said a sharp rise in complaints about green advertising claims - from almost none two years ago to about 500 since early 2008 - was ''very unusual''.

''Five hundred suggests there's more than a moderate problem,'' Mr Samuel said. ''It's a new area and in some cases marketers don't understand - but in most cases marketers do understand and they are overselling.''   Source (SMH)

ACCC warns about 'green' marketing
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said as companies push to appear greener, it's becoming difficult to find products that do not promise some kind of environmental benefit. "Companies risk breaching the Trade Practices Act if they give an overall impression to consumers their product is environmentally friendly when it isn't," ACCC deputy chair Louise Sylvan said in a statement.   Source (SMH)
I also found this:

The Six Sins of Greenwash

In December 2007, TerraChoice, an environmental marketing company in North America , released the findings of a study titled 'The Six Sins of Greenwashing'. The company, a leader in green marketing, found that 99% of the 1018 common 'environmentally friendly' consumer products randomly surveyed for the study were guilty of greenwashing. The findings of the report were alarming and from it the company created the six sins of greenwashing, which it believes will help equip consumers with the tools to figure out the truth about environmentally friendly products. They define the six sins as:
Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off: eg, 'Energy-efficient' electronics that contain hazardous materials.
Sin of No Proof: eg, Shampoos claiming to be 'certified organic', but with no verifiable certification.
Sin of Vagueness: eg, Products claiming to be 100% natural when many naturally occurring substances are hazardous, like arsenic and formaldehyde.
Sin of Irrelevance: eg, Products claiming to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago.
Sin of Fibbing: eg, Products falsely claiming to be certified by an internationally recognised environmental standard like EcoLogo, Energy Star or Green Seal.
Sin of Lesser of Two Evils: eg, Organic cigarettes or 'environmentally friendly' pesticides.

So the message is very clear.

Beware of making 'greenwashed' claims for your products or you may end up on the front page of a major newspaper!!

That would not make good business sense.

If anyone finds any more examples of this type of thing, please let me know and I will add the company to the list of shameful behaviour. It is great to see people are making complaints when they see this type of thing ("from almost none two years ago to 500 complaints since 2008").

** If you enjoyed this post please also check out:

ACCC probing more 'green' ad claims

So please, tell us what you think.

1 comment:

Warwick said...

I think it may be time to move some of this stuff onto its own Facebook page, brother.
Spread a wide net.