Jean Cannon: Conference Talk, August 2008

14 Oct

What is Green? What is Greenwash? The Difference is Important So What is Green? It is about being aware of what we are using Even more importantly what we are wasting. How big is our environmental and carbon footprint ? And not using more than our fair share. “Green” is the New Black.

  • Green is a fashion in marketing
  • No surprise -people buy on emotion
  • Recent surveys show that over 90% of Australians are worried about the environment and
  • More than half of us are prepared to pay more for products and services that we perceive as “green”
  • Perceive is the danger word.

Marketers sell on Emotion That is their job but marketing people and business managers need to be aware that false advertising is illegal. New Legislation Green Marketing and the Trade Practices Act, November 2007. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a crackdown on advertising that cannot be backed up with evidence. There are very large fines and they have already been used. Greenwash is Fraud

•The ACCC is attacking it, so

• what is “green”, and

• where are the grey areas we can fall into where we have exaggerated? We all need to be aware of the consequences.


ACCC Concerns

• Emotive images such as frogs, dolphins and pandas–Relevance? •Words like Eco and Enviro–can you prove it.

• Vague phases, such as green, safe for the environment, environmentally preferred, energy efficient and recyclable, which could mislead consumers


I Must be Careful Here

Enviro & Frogs

What does a Frog Mean? My frog makes a comment on some environmental issue in every newsletter. Ican back up my environmental credentials & ISO 1400. 1Last newsletter the frog reminded people about the 100 tons of CO2 per year that Australian beer fridges emit and they are even more inefficient if they are built into cupboards.


ACCC Also Concerned

• Use of scientific language because the public may not understand it and be misled.

• Unnecessary claims like this “product is CFC free”because CFC is illegal so all product is CFC free and the claim is irrelevant

A Whole New Industry. Dreaming up certifications. What do they mean? How are they audited?Who Audits? How independent and How transparent? Who are they?

• Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), Ecospecifier and Eco-Buy.

• There is an International Standard for this but it is not adhered to in Australia.

• They certify “along the guidelines of”that standard leaving very real questions about how the standards are audited, who audits them and how transparent the process is.

Not for Profit Organisations: This is further confused because some of these certification bodies have set themselves up as “not for profit”organisations

This is a nice marketing image but every certification they offer feeds into a profit making seriesof companies.


Is this “profitwash”.

Federal GovtGreenhouse Friendly

At least we know who we are dealing with there and we know it is genuinely fee for service costing not a “profitwash”organisation. Some Industry Bodies

Several Industry Associations have their own standards. Some are very rigorous,

Others are merely a tick the checklist by untrained auditors

And perhaps not independent.


Marine Stewardship Council

•World Wildlife Fund and a British supermarket chain.

•MSC has very credible auditing requirements

•In Australia it very much overlaps the Environment Protection, Biodiversity and Conservation Act –which a legal requirement if fishers are exporting

–it does not certify the workplace practice in the boats, sheds and processors.


EMS Projects?

•Wide range, large budget, a lot of work by very well meaning people.

•But how many of them really delivered a rigorous EMS or were many of them EM and some only a dab of E?

•How many had measurable outcomes?

•Did some verge on ‘greenwash”?

•In Agriculture, some of the “tick and flick”approaches a great introduction so long as the growers knew that is only a start

•Not criticism but real questions


An Australian Standard

•A fishing industry group developed its own standard funded by FRDC.

•Excellent on boat materials & traceability.

•SAI Global audited & found that it was not an auditable standard.

•They had no concept of what can be audited against.

•It was fixed

•How many other product standards are actually checked?


ACCC Want Proof

What is Proof?Collect data and document “green”credentials.

If you on-sell”green”products,

•have you got evidence of credible “green”credentials•What are your own practices?

•And traceability?


Supply Chain & TraceabilityThere needs to be

:•Evidence of chemicals at every step

•Evidence of energy at every step

•Both supply and distribution chains.

•Really difficult to do with PRODUCT certification


ISO 14001

•Is about practices and behaviour throughout the business

•It is about identifying “issues”and continually improving

•Includes traceability

•Auditors are well trained and independent.

•Internationally recognised

•Helps the business save money as well as going green


Now We Need to Add Carbon

•The ACCC have even more concern about this

•And about claims of carbon offsets and neutrality.


Confused Yet?

People just want to buy something with a green tick and feel comfortable that they are doing the right thing As a Consumer

An ISO 14001 company gives a recognised green tick


You know the business has

•Transparent auditing

•Must comply with legislation

•Feedback and continual improvement


As a Business Owner

•ISO 14001 is the most reputable ‘green”certification

•You can demonstrate environmental responsibility

•You have an internationally recognised certification and

•provable green marketing and positioning

•plus a means of saving money and helping both your business and the environment we leave for our kids to live in

Muddling whether it is “Green” Or “greenwash” Can cost up to $1.2Million

We need to think about any claims we make about how clean and green we really are!




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