Sustainability reports are published for stakeholders, such as investors and customers, to make them appreciate how conscious and responsible your company is. Consequently, they support your company, committing more capital, buying its goods/ services, and helping it grow. However, sustainability reporting can easily be considered greenwashing, resulting in serious credibility issues, loss of market share, shrinking profits, and even legal suits. No manager wants to see his company in such awkward situations. So, how do you avoid greewashing in sustainability reporting?
Keep reading as we unveil some of the expert strategies that work in helping to cut down the risk of greenwashing.
Common Cases of Greenwashing
Greenwashing can take a number of forms, but the most common is imagery. This is the case where ads and product labels use animals, nature, or green color to create the impression of being eco-friendly. For example, some car commercials put their ads in green lawns and nature to depict that they are eco-friendly even when they are not. Others include:
- When labels give information that is expressly untrue. For example, some companies say they used 50% recycled paper when they have used none at all.
- Including irrelevant claims. For example, it will be considered greenwashing when you indicate that your product is free from CFCs when the same have been outlawed from all products. No product should have them.
- Making one part of a product eco-friendly while the other is not. Cigarettes or tobacco with packets made of eco-friendly material is a form of greenwashing because they still remain harmful.
How to Avoid Greenwashing
The three cases of greenwashing we have listed above are only a few of what customers encounter on the market every day. Vagueness, no receipts, and unverifiable reports of eco-friendly services/products/ operations are all considered forms of greenwashing. So, here are some useful tips to help you avoid greenwashing completely:
Committing to Sustainability in Your Company
Like any other company goal, you need to develop and commit to sustainability goals. You can do this by following the main processes of ESG sustainability reporting, which starts with the company review to identify key opportunities and risks. Then, strategies for sustainability are adopted and finally captured in the sustainability report created for stakeholders. The report, including information on ads and products, must be correct and verifiable.
Develop a Clear Plan for Sustainability
The best way to avoid greenwashing is to ensure you have a clear plan that demonstrates a progressive commitment to green production. For example, your sustainability report should capture the continued effort to adopt green technologies. If you indicate that the production uses clean energy, demonstrate how and when your company shifted to green energy. Make the commitment as easy as possible for interested stakeholders to confirm the information.
Encourage Your Partners in the Supply Chain to Adopt Sustainability
Your efforts for sustainability are not just looked at from your activities alone. If you adopt green production, but the raw materials are produced with strategies that damage the environment, it will still be considered greenwashing. Therefore, you need to reach out to suppliers and ask them to adopt sustainability in their systems. If all businesses and their entire supply chains adopt sustainable practices, addressing the challenges facing the planet would be a lot easier.
If you want your company to be more successful, make sustainability part of its core strategies. To gather, analyze, and correctly present your sustainability information, you also need to have the right sustainability reporting software. The apps make it possible to automate data gathering and adhere to all ESG reporting principles. Why risk your efforts getting flagged for greenwashing when you can use reporting software to win the support of stakeholders?