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29 September 2021

Going Green or Just Greenwashing?

The following is an excerpt from 'Going Green- or Just Greenwashing?' by authors Helen Millicer and Gail Greatorex, published in the Spring 2021 Promotional Products Marketing Magazine. Exclusively available to APPA Members from Friday October 1 2021.

There’s a big new trend in product marketing that can easily mislead people, even those with the best of intentions. The trend concerns compostable, recyclable and sustainable products and packaging, and can be a trap for those not paying close attention.

Today, a seemingly endless number of products and packaging proclaim eco-friendly properties and credentials. And at the same time, we are seeing sweeping waves of public scrutiny and criticism, ambitious company goals and governments legislating bans while introducing targets on emissions and recycling.

 There is no doubt that we need to improve the sustainability of products we use and the packaging we receive these products in. The world cannot afford more waste, more litter, more pollution and certainly not higher carbon emissions.


Every day there is a new announcement from a company or organisation regarding an eco-friendly initiative. Medals at the Tokyo Olympics, for example, were made from metals recovered from mobile phones and electronics. Closer to home, Coles recently announced the end of the Little Shop toys promotion, irrespective of its popularity with children because of public criticism concerning its wastefulness and the non-recyclable materials used to manufacture the toys.

Coles is not alone in taking steps to transform the environmental impact of its operational procedures and overall carbon footprint. There is a growing number of companies and organisations doing the same in their policies, tenders, procurements and business practices. Whether ‘Aiming for Zero’ emissions or 100% recyclable, all claims regarding the ‘green’ properties of a company’s actions, products and procedures must be accurate.

The costs for unsubstantiated claims can be staggeringly high....

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