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GreenMarketing VS Greenwashing 3-1
Tunley Environmental28 Jun 20244 min read

Green Marketing Vs Greenwashing: How to Spot the Difference

Green Marketing Vs Greenwashing | Tunley Environmental

Any business aiming to portray itself or its products as ‘sustainable’ must understand the distinction between green marketing and greenwashing. Adhering to the guidance not only influences consumer loyalty but also impacts the overall credibility of their branding. There is also growing regulatory guidance on complying with the Green Claims Code which means there could be legal consequences if the code is not followed.

Consumers are increasingly demanding a clearer understanding of the products that they are purchasing or the business that they are working with. This has caused increased scrutiny to ensure that green marketing efforts are genuine and not just attempts to capitalise  on the eco-conscious wave.

This article explores the difference between green marketing and greenwashing, with the goal of equipping readers with the knowledge to distinguish between the two.

What is Green Marketing?

Green marketing, also known as sustainability marketing, involves the promotion of products, services and brands that are beneficial to the environment. This approach integrates sustainable practices, the use of eco-friendly materials, renewable energy sources and socially responsible manufacturing processes into marketing strategies of the business. The primary aim is to attract environmentally conscious consumers and inform stakeholders of an organisation’s sustainability commitments or the environmental advantages of choosing specific products.

Green marketing is characterised by precision in conveying environmental claims, ensuring these claims are supported by accurate data and effectively communicated to the target audience.

How Green Marketing Affects Businesses and Consumers 

To use green marketing effectively, businesses should have finished a carbon assessment for their company and/or their products to find out how much carbon is produced. By completing this process and marketing according to the Green Claims Code, businesses can ensure compliance.

For businesses, green marketing not only enhances brand image and consumer loyalty but also often reduce operational costs by incorporating sustainable materials and processes. Consumers benefit by accessing products and services that have a reduced impact on the environment, therefore reducing their own scope 3 emissions.

Additionally, companies that pioneer green products/services in their sector often gain a competitive edge with their customers and in being considered for certain government programs that require specific compliance like the PPN 06/21 and PAS 2060. Learn more about Tunley Environmental's support service for sustainability compliance by getting in touch.

What is Greenwashing?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines “Greenwashing” as behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. It is a deceptive marketing practice where businesses falsely claim their products or services are environmentally beneficial, often misleading consumers and stakeholders.  Common tactics include using vague or misleading terms like "natural" or "eco-friendly" without clear definitions, focusing on one supposedly green aspect of a product while ignoring other harmful elements and using green-themed imagery to imply environmental responsibility without factual backing.

How Greenwashing Affects Businesses and Consumers

The consequences of greenwashing extend beyond individual consumer deception to broader environmental and societal impacts. Misleading claims can lead consumers to support products that are detrimental to the environment, hindering genuine sustainable efforts and perpetuating harmful practices.

Businesses found guilty of greenwashing face not only a loss of consumer trust but also legal repercussions and significant financial losses due to fines and the necessity to re-establish their market position. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has introduced new regulations to penalise businesses found engaging in greenwashing. 

Spotting the Difference

To effectively distinguish green marketing from greenwashing, it is crucial to scrutinise the following key areas:

  • Claims and Certifications

Organisations should ensure their environmental claims comply with established guidelines such as the Green Claims Code, which mandates that claims be clear, accurate and substantiated. Verification using a reputable third-part organisation that aligns with sustainability standards such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals can also validate claims. This helps in building consumer trust and ensuring that the green credentials promoted are not only transparent but also backed by credible evidence.

  • Company Practices

Consumers and stakeholders should research beyond the claims. It involves examining whether a company’s practices align with their advertised green credentials. Transparency in the company's supply chain, adherence to sustainable production methods and the overall environmental impact of their products are critical areas to investigate.

  • Transparency

Transparency is paramount in distinguishing genuine green efforts from greenwashing. Companies should provide clear, accessible information that supports their environmental claims and is backed by verifiable data. This includes detailed reports, links to sustainability certifications and evidence of compliance with environmental standards.

This article further highlights five strategies to avoid greenwashing.

The Bottom Line

Navigating the landscape of green marketing versus greenwashing should be a top priority for businesses as sustainability continues to move the forefront of consumer decision-making. As consumers become more astute in their evaluation of green claims, it becomes imperative for businesses to not only talk the talk but also walk the walk in their environmental commitments.

Tunley can support businesses sustainability efforts with our Green Marketing Support. This service is designed to show organisation's carbon reduction efforts through effective marketing strategies while avoiding greenwashing. 


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