When a business overstates its actions to protect the environment, this is known as greenwashing. The symposium was held in Venice, Italy, on Friday to discuss the issue and strategies to combat it. But one of the symposium’s chief organizers also warns it’s much more than cases of unjustified corporate bragging–greenwashing is growing, and it’s dangerous.
“It’s dangerous as it’s misleading the consumer in the end, it’s causing unfair competition and redirecting an important stream of investment funds that were originally planned to be used for sustainable business activities, only to (lead to) an activity that is that is not long-term sustainable” explained Andrea Boragno the president and CEO of the auto supplier Alcantara and a vital coordinator of this symposium during an interview on Forbes.com.The Milan Italian company that produces materials for various industries, including the automotive industry and construction, is among the first firms in Europe to obtain a carbon-neutral certification.
Although the automotive industry wasn’t the only theme of the conference, it is in the spotlight for greenwashing to various extents.
Indeed, announcements from different automakers regarding massively increasing the production of vehicles powered by electric motors or making plans to shift to powering their facilities using alternative energy sources are seen by some to be positive steps; however, they can also be seen as shining objects that divert focus from the impact they have on the environment.
“The total carbon footprint of an automaker is about 80 percent use of their product, except if you’re a Tesla Tesla TSLA 0.0 percent and you’re connecting the Tesla for renewable electricity sources,” said the symposium participants Timothy Nixon in an interview. Nixon is the CEO of Signal Climate Analytics. “Amazingly, they’re doing it, and hopefully, it will provide some incentive to others also do this, but that’s not the only best climate leadership is in leadership.”
The lovely place, Nixon said, is measuring the impact on climate due to the use of products.
A crucial metric is the one that’s classified in the form of Scope 3 emissions by the international Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. They are the emissions generated from sources that are not directly in the supplier’s or the automaker’s control. This includes the usage of the product once it’s been sold. It is a broad category. Three emissions are a number that can be altered to create a more favorable image of the impact of an automaker upon the planet.
Nixon has compared Scope 3 numbers reported by two automakers who produce the same cars each year. However, despite their production levels, one company’s Scope 3 numbers are much more expensive, giving consumers the impression that the company with the lower number of vehicles produces fewer emissions.
However, it’s fun to play when you’re working with numbers. Nixon declares that one of the data points that most automakers don’t report is “the fundamental performance per kilometer and greenhouse emissions per kilometer– the most important metric for carbon intensity the vehicle.”
If the data is analyzed, cars manufactured by the firm with the higher Scope 3 number are more efficient than automobiles manufactured by the automaker using less Scope 3 number.
How do you make that happen?
“Currently, it’s automakers that determine how long their vehicles last on average and the number of miles they’re driven each the year,” Nixon said. Nixon. “I don’t believe that it’s the case that automakers are lying to the market or the public; it’s just another method of looking at the amount that’s not being regulated. I’m not sure if I would call this greenwashing. It’s marketing. It’s using the data it has on hand in its market and stating, “this is the level of performance we have.”
Another concern with the problem, particularly in Europe, is the absence of clear guidelines, to determine the amount of recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) present in any textile or plastic item used by auto or fashion industries. This opens the way for an organization, perhaps unintentionally proclaiming its use of recycled plastic as proof of its environmental efforts; however, the item could have very little recycled material.”I do not think the automobile sector is in denial or is denying the real-world facts. What I believe is occurring is that it’s complicated to engage in an argument based on science-based on an emotional basis. What’s lacking is a detailed description of recycling and an exact method to prove it. We need legislation to protect these false declarations. Check to see if what’s claimed is factual. If it’s not true, the statement should be rescinded,” said Antonello Ciotti, the Chairman of the Committee of PET Manufacturers in Europe and Director of Equipolymers, one of the biggest PET producers within Europe. European Union, in an interview. Alcantara’s Boragno says that the company is trying to prevent the problem by the process he calls “responsible procurement. We can’t leave the issue to anyone other than us. We look at from beginning to end our manufacturing process.”
Alcantara’s carbon neutrality certificate is a fact. However, symposiums like the one that was just completed at Venice and others that look into the issue are focused on closing loopholes that permit manipulation of data or cherry-picking it and the absence of clear guidelines regarding recycled plastics, and penalizing companies across a variety of industries who use greenwashing as a way to conceal their sustainability lapses.