Green hypocrisy was useful: 42% of those who say they are, are not

In marketing communication, there is a huge problem with claims on sustainability, according to a survey carried out in Europe by ICPEN

ICPEN is the acronym for International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network. A recent research of theirs, involving also the fashion world (and, for example, food and cosmetics), reveals green hypocrisy. They discovered that 42% of the slogans by companies self-promoting their green excellence are “exaggerated, false or deceitful”.

Green hypocrisy unmasked

Those companies, as stated by ICPEN, use words that are not only misleading, but openly deceitful, “so much that they can be qualified as unfair marketing activities, according to EU regulations”. The most abused terms (deprived of their real meaning) are, mainly, “eco”, “sustainable” and “bio”, which turn out to be tools of an evident greenwashing.

A vague and generic lexicon

ICPEN examined 344 ambiguous announcements, where the authors of the survey have identified two kinds of malice. “In 59% of cases, the seller did not support their statements by easily accessible scientific evidence. In 37% of cases, a fuzzy and generic lexicon is used, which can lead the consumer to get the wrong end of the stick on the lack of a negative product impact on the environment”.

We are, in a way, in the same territory where the tanning industry has been fighting for years against the proselytes of eco leather (and of all related neologisms). As everyone should know, eco leather is leather tanned respecting the standards set out by UNI. But in common language, after years of dangerous greenwashing, it ended up identifying alternative materials. In Italy, the Law Decree about Leather, which came into force on 24th October 2020, finally put things in order. But unluckily, as even the ICPEN survey demonstrates, the situation is extremely complicated. And far from being solved.