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FEATURESTORY
phrases have become tossed around in the public mental impact of their products and disclosing the
domain for the past few years. Marketing cam- names of their suppliers.
This is
paigns touting green initiatives are a firmly estab- Ma Jun says the truth isn’t so pretty. “That is
not about
lished trend. Along- a company that talks a lot
side these buzzwords about CSR. [But if they did
greenwashing.
is another term: the research], they could
This is the
Greenwashing. easily find that one of their
real deal.
While concerns for suppliers has six years of
the bottom line often records on our air pollution
Ross Farnsworth,
are in line with envi- database consecutively,
Wal-Mart China’s Senior
ronmental efforts like one year after another.
Director of Merchandising
near-sourcing and And another has 3 years of
more efficient pack- records on our water site.”
aging designs, and Wal-Mart is considered
can bring real results, an innovator in green sup-
there is a fair amount ply chain management,
of false information both leading the way in in-
to wade through. How do we figure out what is PR novation, and putting pressure on suppliers and
and what is actual innovative practice? competitors to keep up. The
At the Green Product Forum held in Shanghai company is
this past May, Chris Terry of Hoffman Agency high-
lighted the problem for participants, focusing on
several types of greenwashing that companies
are guilty of, whether intentionally or not. Using a
survey by TerraChoice, she explained how green
claims often mask a trade-off, where the compa-
ny is doing well in one area, but not in others.
Even companies that are known sustain-
ability leaders can be perpetrators of green-
washing. Timberland is an excellent exam-
ple. The major American footwear brand
is known for its green initiatives, even
creating a Green Index rating to
measure the environ-
www.chainaonline.com JULY/AUGUST 2009 29
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