What are the 5 Types of Greenwashing?

Categories Greenwashing

While greenwashing has always been a common form of advertising and product marketing, it has become exponentially more common over the past decade. From automotive corporations to small food & beverage companies, groups of all sizes and structures are engaging in greenwashing practices to bolster their environmental image in the eyes of consumers. While some forms of greenwashing are easy to spot, most can be difficult to notice if you do not know what to look for. That is why the plastic sustainability and greenwashing experts at Change Plastic for Good have put together some information to help you understand what the 5 types of greenwashing are and how to recognize them.

Learn how to identify greenwashing.

5 Prominent Types of Greenwashing to Watch for

The following types of greenwashing are commonly used by companies of all sizes for various types of products and services:

1. Green by Association

For this type of greenwashing, a company will cover itself and its marketing efforts in an abundance of environmental terms and images. By doing this, customers will associate them with positive environmental attributes even if their products, services, and practices have no environmental benefits. For example, automotive manufacturers love to place their gas-guzzling trucks in forests and other natural settings for their ads to make them seem more environmentally friendly than they are.

2. Unproven Claims

Environmental claims are often made by companies, but few will substantiate these claims with evidence or data. For example, a company may claim to have implemented a “more environmentally efficient manufacturing process” for their products, but they do not provide any information to verify this claim. At the end of the day, these claims are typically highly exaggerated or outright false if they are not backed up with facts.

3. Bait & Switch

This type of greenwashing is common throughout various industries. Here, a company will heavily promote the environmental attributes of a single product while continuing to manufacture and sell other products that lack these environmental benefits. An example of this practice can be seen with food and beverage companies using more sustainable packaging or packaging made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials, but only for a select few of their products.

4. Rallying Behind a Lower Standard

If a company or one of their products earns a valid third-party certification, they will likely display this certification prominently on their packaging and marketing materials. While these certifications are valid, they are typically from companies with lower standards. For example, automotive manufacturers often receive their environmental or emission certifications from other automotive companies and organizations instead of actual environmental or green-focused groups.

5. Blatant Lying

Sadly, companies intentionally or accidentally bend the truth when presenting their products or services to consumers. This act of blatant lying occurs more than most consumers would think, and it can occur for nearly any type of product from manufacturers of all sizes. For example, if you have ever bought a product that claims that its plastic packaging is “good for the environment”, this is a lie. While the packaging may be somewhat better for the environment due to using more recycled materials and producing fewer emissions, but it will still take hundreds of years to break down if it ends up in a landfill or the ocean. Even if this packaging is treated with BDP®, it is still not accurate to say that it is good for the environment. In this case, it would be better to say that it features a better environmental profile than comparable packaging materials due to faster rate of degradation over time.

To learn more about greenwashing or Thunderforce, get in touch with the team at Change Plastic for Good. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding BDP® or the movement to raise greenwashing awareness.