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The Cynical Edge of Corporate Green Credentials

Sep 5, 2008
Increasingly the environment is becoming a factor in our purchases. From cars to food packaging, houses to shopping bags, its perceived impact on the environment seems to be holding a lot of weight. But many so called 'green' companies use these green credentials simply to increase sales rather than ease the collective conscience by making a genuine commitment towards sustainability and environmental soundness.

Just take manufacturers of luxury goods for example. The very principal of luxury goods is opposed to a reduction in waste and consumption, yet these companies continue to use their green credentials as a new marketing venture, to increase the profits, waste and consumption of their products. It is hypocritical for these companies to offer environmentalism at a price to consumers who should realise that it's their incessant consumption which is the real green issue.

Recently an airport got on its environmental high horse with airline company Flybe, over the airline paying actors to take flights to meet usage bonus targets set by the airport. The managing director claimed to be "absolutely shocked" with Flybe's disregard for the environmental impact of their staged commercial flight.

This airport's very business was in selling cut-price flights which completely fly in the face of any boasted environmental commitment. That's not to say that airports shouldn't consider their environmental impact, but this statement was clearly born from a reluctance to award Flybe with a 280, 000 pound bonus rather than their concern for the environment. It was simply a cynical exercise to turn public opinion against Flybe.

I recently noticed a print campaign by EDF Energy pledging to help reverse climate change by building 5 new nuclear power stations in the UK. What EDF might fail to recognise is that not everyone perceives nuclear waste as particularly environmentally friendly, even if it is buried and disposed of very neatly.

Essentially the reference to climate change suggests that EDF are investing a lot of money in nuclear power simply to make the world a nicer place, when in reality EDF would not be building any nuclear power stations unless it was financially beneficial for them to do so.

Such companies have a legal obligation to constantly increase profits for their shareholders, which is in opposition with the idea of sustainability, and will inevitably lead to ideological casualties. The very idea of such corporations being environmentally friendly should be laughed at. They should be encouraged to make genuine commitments to reduce the rate of climate change, but not rewarded for mentioning green credentials when it is simply a cold hearted marketing tactic.
About the Author
John Mce writes on behalf of Environment in Business(EIB), a magazine about the environmental challenges facing organisations; and about the answers to those challenges. EIB separates the political and pressure group hype from the issues that really count for businesses.
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