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How Big of an Issue is Greenwashing?

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing also known as green sheen is the deception from a company, where they falsely advertise to try and capture the publics approval of a company’s environmental responsibility which is on purposely misleading. This can include environmental imagine, false advertising and labels.

Greenwashing as become the centre of attention in recent years with more and more companies needing and claiming to become more environmentally friendly which would also mean that they would have to change and adapt for these claims to be true. In reality a study showed that in 2021 nearly 50% of the companies who were audited by the EU where committing greenwashing in some degree. It went on to say that ‘businesses claimed either an exaggeration environmental impact or an environmentally friendly policy that was not true’. This would suggest that greenwashing is a major issue and isn’t just about straight-out lying but the deception within the exaggeration of how much they have contributed to climate change. With it legally required that in the EU a company will have to declare climate risk which will reveal more than they want to disclose unlike USA where they will not have to legally reveal climate risk which create an even bigger issue.

With society much more aware of greenwashing and all the issues of climate change it would show that the shift in society becoming more aware about carbon footprint would result in companies having to do more to look socially responsible and have a good look publicly. This would suggest why greenwashing has increased. The damage that green washing has done is substantial already. With it continuing and only Europe starting to act the rest of the world will have to catch up and increase the regulations surrounding greenwashing this would also mean that they would need to be more aware of the damage they could cause. Most countries do not have regulations which would further suggest that there is a big issue with greenwashing. However, in the public eye all companies will be under scrutiny an example of this would be Volkswagen where they cheated emissions test to claim that they have hit all the regulations and would advertise that they are eco-friendly. This out of many examples would show that it is common and with the public putting Volkswagen under scrutiny for years after it would suggest that change has occurred with view of greenwashing much more known and opinionated within the domain of the public.

What can be done ?

In response to trying to reduce greenwashing countries such as France have even put laws in place where if you are guilty of greenwashing than you could face prison time. In the UK there isn’t a certain law about greenwashing but with false advertising. This would be in response to the issue. Surrounding greenwashing and trying to reduce companies deceiving about climate change. With a social responsibility with climate change to the big companies it shows that regulations and laws which are getting put into place would suggest that greenwashing is a major issue.

How can greenwashing be reduced and is everything that could be done being done. The answers to reducing greenwashing have been touched on with regulations needing to be introduced along with rigorous checks on each company before they claim that they are ESG friendly and able to advertise sustainability. Other methods would be increasing the punishments if being caught with Volkswagen being fined 125 million dollars. This may seem a lot, but this isn’t compared to the scale of the company and the amount of profit they would have made from their own breach. Countries could follow Frances’s footsteps with punishment being as extreme as prison time to the appropriate people. This would make companies and the culprits think before trying to use deception.

Greenwashing has always happened and very likely continue in the future the issues is growing

with little to stop the deception in this moment in time until the governments of all countries will recognise that this is a major issue and a huge contribution to global warming which we are seeing the results of now which proves that greenwashing should be eliminated. Overall, the issues are even bigger when you research about this topic and will become bigger if no one acts quickly and decisively.

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