How to Avoid "Greenwashing" in Manufacturing

Let’s face it, green products are a goldmine in today’s world of environmental consciousness. Many consumers buy “organic”, “recyclable”, and “green” products by what they see on the label. This makes it all too tempting for a company to slap such a label on the product whether it deserves it or not. This is what the Federal Trade Commission calls Greenwashing. The agency is fighting against the practice through its Green Guides and regulations. However, there are several ways you can prevent accidental Greenwashing for your own products.

Know your product ingredients/components

Your product’s source and the type of material are used to classify materials as sustainable or not. All of the items within a product must be sustainable, recyclable, etc. in order to carry the label. By knowing what goes into your products, you can avoid mislabeling. Before applying the label, the origins of the raw materials, their chemical transformation must be considered as well. For example, a material can undergo certain chemical processes that no longer make it recyclable.

Pay special attention packaging

The marketing department may get a little overzealous and slap a green label on the products without careful consideration. What looks great on an ad or label may not be in keeping with the company’s products. Therefore, inspect your product labels and advertisements before releasing them to the public.

Understand the true meaning of the “green” words

The Green Guides work to carefully define the words that are used to describe the products. Study them before applying them to your products. For example, sustainable describes a product that is very different from the products that are recyclable. Furthermore, natural resources can be organic, but don’t try to slap an organic label on a product made from another type of natural resource—fossil fuels!

Always avoid false promises

Fraud can become your concern if the products are labeled falsely. Consult the Federal Trade Commission’s website for details. Just remember that the packaging matters just as much as the materials inside it.

Accidental Greenwashing is avoidable with a little consideration on the products, packaging, and advertising. With the FTC taking more interest in the green labels, it is well worth any company’s while to be vigilant with their product’s advertising.

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