Posted by Luke on October 6, 2010
I don’t deny that BP undoubtedly failed to take the proper precautions with their deep-water drilling activities. But I also believe that BP’s downfall was exponentially worse due to their exceptional marketing efforts. Beyond Petroleum. It was one of the most successful green rebranding campaigns in recent history. A company that derived over 99% of their revenue from petroleum changed their brand to represent that they derive revenue from nothing but renewable sources. They completely and utterly mislead consumers into thinking they were better than petroleum.
I admit it. I was fooled. Their advertisements of how they invested in renewable energy… their contributions to social causes… their green logo… it seemed legit. I didn’t do any research, but they were definitely saying the right things. The problem, though, was that they let the perception of their brand get too far ahead of reality. They were advertising nothing but green, but they were doing everything but green.
I’ve increasingly witnessed companies in my industry deploying similar tactics. More than 99% of the products some of our competitors produce (by volume) are made from petroleum. They are made from the oil that is derived from deep-water rigs. And even while the nation watched oil gush into the Gulf, those companies continued green washing customers by touting their single green product line. In fact, some even stepped up their green marketing during that time. Most people prayed that the oil would stop gushing while these companies kept sucking oil from our earth’s core.
There’s one company in particular that has crossed the line in my mind. I’ll refrain from stating the company’s name at this point (maybe in a future post I’ll take off my gloves). This company recently launched a line of green products after 5 years of watching from the sidelines. However, even while they launched these products, they still promoted their polystyrene foam products as being a great environmental choice. They are talking out of both sides of their mouth. They say two completely contradictory statements hoping that they’ll appeal to customers in some way, shape or form.
“We believe polystyrene foam has an excellent carbon footprint compared to PLA. Buy foam if you want to be green.”
“We just launched a line of sustainable products made from PLA. They meet the evolving needs of green customers and are less harmful on the environment. Choose us when you want green”
I kid you not. That is basically what that company is saying. It’s shocking, really. This reminds me of BP because they are letting perception get ahead of reality. They are promoting themselves as greener than they actually are. That won’t last forever though.
My advice to this, anonymous company: Get 3rd party data that supports your claims. Consumers aren’t going to allow themselves to be green washed forever. We”ll let it happen once or twice, but we’ll get smart after that. There’s a new wave of green coming. And that wave involves a deeper understanding of what green actually is and making sure companies back up their claims. Get ready for Green 2.0. I’ll talk more about that in a future post.
Posted in brand loyalty, BS, environmental products, foodservice, greenwashing, management, marketing, Pactiv | 1 Comment »
Posted by Luke on February 24, 2010
Hopefully this is my last BS call for a while…
An article on GreenUpGrader.com claimed that bioplastic cups might be bad for the environment because they drive up corn prices, don’t actually biodegrade, and cause issues in recycling facilities. Below is my response to Becky (the writer) which was also submitted as a comment on the GreenUpGrader website.
The claims in this article are, plain and simple, inaccurate. PLA/bioplastics do not impact corn prices. I am involved in the industry and have seen the data. Stating otherwise is untrue. Also, bioplastics are not causing an issue in the recycling industry as of now because there isn’t enough in the recycling stream. I’m involved in recycling industry trade associations and know this first hand. Don’t make bioplastics out to be bad when they actually save resources, emit fewer greenhouse gases , and have a significantly better life cycle and carbon footprint than conventional products.
I’m happy to go into more detail with anyone on this topic.
Posted in BS, compostable products, corn, cups, GHG, recycling | 1 Comment »
Posted by Luke on February 23, 2010
It’s amazing how much crap is out there. I keep stumbling across articles that contain outright false information. Wouldn’t an Information Police Force be nice? Sadly, consumers have to be incredibly smart to know what is BS and what isn’t. Well, I’m ready to start calling BS on ill informants.
The latest BS I’m calling out relates to this article in the Washington Post that falsely stated that “biodegradable” cups emit methane gas in landfills. There appears to be a huge misnomer that PLA (the corn plastic used to produce compostable cups) emits methane when disposed of in a landfill, thus some writers claim it’s worse for the environment than plastic made out of petroleum. Politely, I’m calling Bullshit.
(Sidenote: if you’re not a PLA nerd like me, PLA is made from corn and will turn back into dirt if composted in a commercial composting environment, of which there are too few, which means that most PLA products are disposed of landfills like the majority of conventional products. As a result, there are some people who refuse to use the material unless it is composted. This ignores the front-end benefit of PLA which is that it’s made from an annually harvested plant instead of oil, and it emits fewer greenhouse gases to produce than oil-based plastics – it has a smaller carbon footprint.)
Plain and simple, PLA does not emit methane into the atmosphere if disposed of in a landfill. I won’t bore you with the science, but you can read more details in this presentation. Besides, the Clean Air Act requires landfills to capture their methane which would mean that if science were proven wrong and PLA broke down after several decades in that environment, the methane would be captured and wouldn’t be released into the atmosphere. Also, if you want to read more about PLA not biodegrading in landfills, similar to how other conventional products don’t biodegrade in landfills, you can read more about it here. I’ll talk more about my thoughts on the benefits of PLA in future posts.
Posted in BS, compostable products, cups, GHG, Landiflls | Leave a Comment »