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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Guidance for Responsible Communications

European Bioplastics, the trade association for the European bioplastics industry, has published a guide for environmental communications about the false or misleading communication of environmental product properties.  

The brochure outlines general, ISO-compliant guidelines for environmental communications and provides recommendations on how to make credible claims for bioplastics such as biobased, biodegradable, compostable or CO2 neutral.

BP’s Beyond Petroleum campaign came under fire for greenwashing in the early 2000’s and more recently it was joined by criticism of Dow and Rio Tinto’s sponsorship of the London Olympics.  Many companies struggle to get the right balance.  As David Cook of The Natural Step said at last week’s Global Chemical Industry Sustainability Summit, most chemical companies need to fire their PR agencies and hire someone good.  (Ahem, we’re over here.)

But this problem is not limited to bigger industry players.  At Sustainability Consult we believe we have a finely-tuned greenwash radar and yet we recognise that there is often a fine line between communicating attractive claims backed by credible data and greenwashing, particularly where visual images are concerned.  

That’s where guidelines for delivering successful environmental communications strategies come into play.  In the September issue of European Bioplastics’ bi-monthly online newsletter, the BioplasticsBulletin, the association reiterated its message of ‘No greenwashing with bioplastics’.  To echo our motto, it makes business sense.  If the biobased economy is going to make a clean break from the petroleum-dominated market and stand any chance of mitigating the effects of climate change, flawless claims are a must.

Blog by Neil Bradley and Kathryn Sheridan

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