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  • Writer's pictureMaya Ardon

Greenwashing 101

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.






References

Mlaba, K. (2021, August 20). Greenwashing: What is it and how to avoid it. Global Citizen. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/greenwashing-what-is-it-and-how-to-avoid-it/

Admin. (2021, October 25). The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo named Top Plastic Polluters for the fourth year in a row. Break Free From Plastic. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/2021/10/25/the-coca-cola-company-and-pepsico-named-top-plastic-polluters-for-the-fourth-year-in-a-row/

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

Loftus-Farren, Z. (2021, June 8). Coca-Cola sued for false advertising over sustainability claims. Earth Island Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/coca-cola-sued-for-false-advertising-over-sustainability-claims/

Designing Bottles for Better Recycling. CocaCola. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://www.coca-cola.co.ke/sustainability/world-without-waste/designing-sustainable-packaging/designing-better-bottles-for-better-recycling



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