Report claims major corporations are guilty of ‘greenwashing’

A new report showed that companies like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and others have been making false promises regarding the recyclability of their packaging. According to research released on Thursday by the Changing Markets Foundation, a British nongovernmental organization specializing in sustainability and environmentalism, some businesses have made “misleading and mendacious” statements about the sustainability and recyclability of their packaging. Coca-Cola, Unilever, IKEA, Procter & Gamble, British grocery store TESCO, and Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS line are all guilty of “greenwashing,” or misleading customers about a brand’s environmental efforts.

The report stated in part, “These examples show that brands are presenting materials and selling products as better for the environment when they are either difficult to recycle, not recyclable at all or using a small fraction of ‘ocean-bound’ plastic that they collected through various clean-ups.” The foundation claimed that Coca-Cola has promoted utilizing bottles made of 25%  marine plastic but hides the fact that it is the greatest polluter of plastic in the world. Additionally, the report noted that Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles from Procter & Gamble are colored blue, which means they cannot be recycled even though they are advertised as being made of sustainable materials.

Procter & Gamble defended the products, saying, “Our Head & Shoulders ocean clean bottle was one of the first steps on our ongoing responsible beauty journey and helped us to learn about the use of PCR within our products. This pack is no longer available to buy in the UK but we can confirm that it was recyclable. We don’t yet have all the answers but remain committed to ensuring Head & Shoulders is a force for good within beauty.”

Manager at CMF George Harding-Rolls noted that the results of the study are just a small portion of sustainability issues with many items. He explained, “Our latest investigation exposes a litany of misleading and mendacious claims from household names consumers should be able to trust. This is just the tip of the iceberg and it is of crucial importance that regulators take this issue seriously. The industry is happy to gloat its green credentials with little substance on the one hand, while continuing to perpetuate the plastic crisis on the other.” However, Harding-Rolls is confident that the report will lead to market changes, stating, “​​We are calling out ‘greenwashing’ so the world can see that voluntary action has led to a market saturated with false claims.”

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