What is greenwashing and why is it a problem?
By definition, greenwashing is when a company, government or organisation “makes people believe that it is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”. Branding something as “eco-friendly” or “recyclable” when it’s not, misleads consumers into thinking they are helping the planet by choosing those products. This is unfair to the people who are genuinely trying to make sustainable and ethical decisions, and it makes it hard to know which brands are genuinely doing good things.
What is the Green Claims Code?
In 2020, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation which found that “40% of green claims made online are misleading”. In response to this shocking finding, they have since released a new anti-greenwash guide for UK businesses which is designed to protect consumers from misleading environmental claims. The Green Claims Code is based on 6 key principles:
1. Claims must be truthful and accurate
2. Claims must be clear and unambiguous
3. Claims must not omit or hide important information
4. Claims must only make fair and meaningful comparisons
5. Claims must be substantiated
6. Claims must consider the full life cycle of a product
As of 1st January 2022, if a business can’t prove their environmental claims, they could be taken to court.
What we are doing at Flexi-Hex®
1. At Flexi-Hex®, we pride ourselves on being transparent. We are forthcoming about who we are, what we do, and what our mission is - to lead a new generation of sustainability within the global packaging industry and raise awareness of the environmental threats currently facing our world.
2. We are sincere in our communications across all platforms and we try to be as detailed and accurate as possible when describing our products so our customers can make informed choices based on fact. For example, we don’t just say our sleeves are made from recycled materials, we make it clear that our sleeves are made from 85% recycled paper and 15% FSC certified paper. We use trust-worthy sources of research and information to tell us facts not opinion.
3. We are authentic about our sustainability credentials and we are currently working hard to gain more certifications and accreditations to back up our sustainability claims and hold us accountable.
- Last year, we became Planet Mark certified which means we are part of a community of like-minded businesses “who are taking climate action, contributing to society and encouraging others to do the same”. With the help from the Planet Mark team, we have developed targets for reducing our carbon emissions by 5% or more each year with time-bound processes for achieving them.
- We are in the process of applying for B Corp. This prestigious certification is awarded to companies who meet the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”.
4. We have created an annual Sustainability Report which outlines ‘what we are doing right now’ to reduce our environmental impact as well as our future sustainability goals. This is reviewed yearly to help keep us on track.
5. We regularly share updates on the impact we are having (number of km of plastic removed from the packaging industry) and we have a fair and meaningful way of comparing and measuring this (1 sleeve = 0.5m plastic). To date, with the help of our customers, we have saved over 3,053km of plastic packaging from being used.
6. When we make a sustainable claim, we try to provide context and give credible evidence to back it up. For example, we don’t just say “we are a carbon neutral business”, we explain how and why we are carbon neutral, by consciously reducing our carbon emissions and offsetting with Mossy Earth. We understand offsetting carbon isn’t a license to pollute and we are working hard to reduce our carbon emissions within our supply chain over the next 18 months.
7. Improving our global supply chain is a big focus for us right now. We have recently hired a dedicated team to develop and manage how we source and distribute our products to ensure it runs as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
We asked our new Head of Global Supply Chain, James Trevena, to share his top three priorities for this year:
• Work towards achieving end-to-end supply chain visibility and accountability across all supply chain activities.
• Ensure that our suppliers and service providers are continuously pushing for greener solutions and innovations.
• Support Flexi-Hex projects that help maintain and improve our sustainability credentials, and work towards future certifications and accreditations.
Our future Goals
We don’t claim to be perfect, and where there are improvements to be made within the business, we are candid about it, because small steps in the right direction are better than none. We are open to learning and we will continue to educate ourselves on climate change and modern innovations, which we promise to share with our followers.
We are so lucky to be part of a community of like-minded businesses and individuals who want to share their knowledge and skills so we can all do a better job of protecting our planet together. Like the sustainable outdoor brand, Finisterre, who have always been a huge inspiration to us. In our next blog post, we interview their Positive Impact Manager, Adele Gingell, to get her take on greenwashing and advice for tackling the problem.