Written By: Maya Ardon
Edited By: Vanessa Lu Langley
Greenwashing is a tactic of branding something as environmentally-friendly or sustainable, when in reality it is not necessarily so. Due to the effects of industrialisation on the rapidly developing climate crisis, it makes sense that corporations would like to brand themselves or their products as eco-friendly, even if it conceals unsustainable or unethical practices of the company itself or the production process, for example. By misleading and deceiving people who choose to buy a product they believe to be green, companies promote products and practices that undermine the need for innovation to be environmentally sound. Further, greenwashing can be applied on a larger scale when companies will try to portray themselves as allies in the climate justice movement or deflect attention from their own contributions to environmental harm (Mlaba, 2021).
Both manifestations of greenwashing can be exemplified by CocaCola. The corporation heavily advertises its recycling initiatives and pledged to support the New Plastics Global Economy Commitment in 2018 (Loftus-Farren, 2021). Further, Coca Cola’s “World Without Waste” pledge to recycle one bottle for each bottle sold by 2030 was created in order to seemingly take accountability for plastic pollution (BBC, 2021). These portray CocaCola’s strategy of branding itself with a so-called green image. In 2021, however, it was ranked alongside PepsiCo as the top plastic polluter in the world for the fourth consecutive year (Break Free From Plastic, 2021). Therefore, Coca Cola’s PR means little when situated with the environmental impacts of producing, selling, and consuming the company’s products. In fact, the corporation faced a lawsuit filed by the Earth Island Institute in 2021 criticizing its deceptive marketing practices in the face of its immense plastic production and waste (Loftus-Farren, 2021). CocaCola’s environmental publicity relies heavily on consumer actions – such as recycling bottles – to justify their continued production of plastic bottles, rather than meaningful transparency and investments into fighting the pollution crisis (Loftus-Farren, 2021). Thus, despite CocaCola’s publicity efforts to show otherwise, it remains a leading plastic polluter and has not transitioned to significantly sustainable practices.
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BBC. (2018, January 19). Coca-Cola pledges to recycle all packaging by 2030. BBC News. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-42746911
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