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Substantiating Sustainability: Avoiding the Dangers of Greenwashing

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In business, ‘it’s not easy being green,’ but with growing numbers of consumers and purchasers prioritizing environmentally conscious brands, making sustainable products has become essential to good business. Targeting this booming consumer preference with green claims is now a powerful marketing tool, with potentially far-reaching and long-term benefits for brands that get it right. Companies that successfully promote their sustainable products will typically boost their sales, brand loyalty and consumer relationships, all while reducing production costs.

Self-declared environmental claims have become a staple of corporate marketing, with phrases ranging from the overly general (eco-friendly, carbon-neutral, green, etc.) to the undefined (natural, energy-efficient, low carbon, clean, sustainable, ethical and fair). What’s the primary risk that brands and retailers are facing here? Many brands are spending more time and money claiming to be green rather than actually implementing the business practices that minimize their environmental impact.

Without the right procedures in place to ensure sustainability claims, brands risk making vague or inaccurate claims, emphasizing unrelated environmental issues at the expense of a more concerning issue, or worst of all, attracting the dreaded ‘greenwashing’ tag (providing misleading or outright false information about a brand’s sustainability efforts). While assessments have found that these are often cases of exaggeration rather than intentional falsehoods, accusations of greenwashing can cause significant reputational damage.

Making unsubstantiated green claims can also be against the law. Several regulations apply to this area, such as the European guidance/regulations on green claims, ISO Environmental Labeling that covers types of labeling and declarations, regulations that affect recycled rPET content and related claims, and more.

How to avoid greenwashing & substantiate sustainability claims with clear visibility on product origin?

Currently, greenwashing is the biggest challenge that specifiers and other purchasers face when selecting legitimately eco-conscious products. Brands that cannot validate their green claims may be claiming they’re doing more for the environment than they actually are. What’s the best way to avoid this? Proper verification and authentication by a reputable third party can help your brand substantiate its green claims, stand out from the competition in a crowded marketplace, and foster meaningful connections with consumers. The landscape of green marketing is also anything but black and white.

A growing number of ‘eco-labels’ is making it difficult for consumers to differentiate between genuinely environmentally preferable products and those that aren’t. Being able to prove the origin of your products and the veracity of your green claims is the only way a consumer can make an informed decision about choosing your brand over another.

Textile quality and sustainability solutions company SgT uses its extensive textile expertise to help brands and retailers increase visibility on the origin of their products to legitimize their green marketing claims with proven traceability and reap the rewards and long-term value of the sustainability journey.

The most effective way for a brand to prove its green claims will depend on the material, the product and where it stands on the supply chain. On some occasions, desktop verification would suffice, with a documentation control that reviews the available documents provided by the suppliers. Some other times, an on-site evaluation will be needed with a traceability assessment on-site. When these first two are insufficient or when additional proofs are needed it is possible to perform testing on some products or materials to evaluate the veracity of the claims and have clear visibility on the origin.

The most productive method would be to involve a third party like SgT, who understands the relevant components such as standards and metrics and is able to provide innovative scientific methods to support brands on their sustainability strategy.

SgT creates tailor-made programs adapted to the specific needs of each customer. They provide raw material solutions all along the raw materials chain to secure supply chain and materials from the early stages of fabric development to bulk production and finished production factory.

SgT has also pioneered an innovative scientific method to verify and quantify recycled polyester (rPET) in products to help brands and retailers authenticate their rPET claims. This helps brands be sure of what they bring to the market.

To help brands and retailers have 0 percent unexpected chemical risks tested in 72 hours, the brand specialized in quality solutions for textiles, has also brought to the market the Chem Scan Check™: a new testing approach detecting more than 285 substances in one single test.

SGT

While increasing pressure on brands and retailers to create products with minimal harm to the environment is good news for the planet, it’s also good news for businesses who stand to benefit from this consumer boom. Achieving genuine, transparent and verifiable sustainability can begin with small steps that progressively lead to a much larger and more global approach.

SgT creates tailor-made programs adapted to the specific needs of each customer. You can find more about its sustainability solutions
here.

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