Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble guilty of ‘greenwashing’: Report

Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and others are making deceptive claims about package recyclability, according to a new report.

Several companies have offered “misleading and mendacious” claims regarding the sustainability and recyclability of their packaging, the Thursday report from the Changing Markets Foundation, a British nongovernmental organization focused on sustainability and environmentalism, said. Coca-Cola, Unilever, IKEA, Procter & Gamble, British supermarket chain TESCO, and Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS brand are guilty of “greenwashing,” or deceiving consumers about a brand’s green initiatives.

“These examples show that brands are presenting materials and selling products as better for the environment when they are either difficult to recycle, not recyclable at all or using a small fraction of ‘ocean-bound’ plastic that they collected through various clean-ups, “the report said.

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Coca-Cola has advertised using bottles that are made of 25% marine plastic, but it hides the fact it is the world’s largest plastic polluter, the report said. Procter & Gamble’s Head and Shoulders shampoo bottles are dyed blue, meaning they cannot be recycled despite being marketed as made of sustainable materials, the NGO added.

Procter & Gamble defended its branding of the “beach plastic” bottle.

“Our Head & Shoulders ocean clean bottle was one of the first steps on our ongoing responsible beauty journey and helped us to learn about the use of PCR within our products. This pack is no longer available to buy in the UK but we can confirm that it was recyclable, “the company said in a statement to the Guardian. “We don’t yet have all the answers but remain committed to ensuring Head & Shoulders is a force for good within beauty.”

But George Harding-Rolls, campaign manager at CMF, teased that the findings represented only a sliver of the sustainability problems in many products.

“Our latest investigation exposes a litany of misleading and mendacious claims from household names consumers should be able to trust. This is just the tip of the iceberg and it is of crucial importance that regulators take this issue seriously,” Harding-Rolls said. “The industry is happy to gloat its green credentials with little substance on the one hand, while continuing to perpetuate the plastic crisis on the other.”

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Harding-Rolls is optimistic the report and other efforts will lead to changes in the market regarding sustainability.

“We are calling out greenwashing so the world can see that voluntary action has led to a market saturated with false claims,” Harding-Rolls said. “We must embrace systemic solutions, such as absolute reductions in plastic packaging and mandatory deposit return systems.”

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