Monday, 8th march 2021 | General News
Marco Arezio - Consulente materie plastiche - Online Products and Greenwashing: How to Defend Against a Rising Phenomenon

Online commerce is advancing overwhelmingly in consumer habits, thanks to some peculiarities that help the phenomenon.

Speed of delivery, ease of purchase, very large catalogs, low prices and convenience compared to buying in a physical store, especially in times like these where there are restrictions on mobility.

An online sales race is also made by producers of articles who until recently did not use this channel and, therefore, the supply basin is became really huge.

Among thousands of offers for similar items, marketers have refined customer persuasion techniques by knowing what consumers expect to find in a product.

The European Commission and national consumer protection authorities have investigated the offers of some products in the online market and have noticed a massive display of misleading, exaggerated messages and sometimes false about greenwashing.

Since the consumers who use the online shopping service are also customers who generally require more sustainable products, information on the products for sale by manufacturers or the advertising on the article, are often imbued with statements that recall the sustainability and recyclability of the same.

Terms such as recycled, green, green economy, ecological, organic, zero impact, and many others are often found on packaging but, in reality, do not always reflect the production chain of the article, giving the customer incorrect information and without supporting the claims with evidence.

A study by the European Community evaluated 344 "apparently dubious" sustainability statements made online by companies, most of them in the clothing and textile sectors , cosmetics, personal care and household appliances.

In 42% of cases, the national control authorities found that the statements printed on the packaging were false, misleading or potentially misleading for consumers, therefore to be considered as an unfair practice under European Union law.

This information that the consumer finds on the packaging is not sufficient to allow a correct choice of the product and, in 37% of cases, deliberately vague terms are used without data clear and certified support.

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, said that while some companies strive to produce truly eco-friendly products, others take a shorter route and at no cost, through the use of vague, false or exaggerated claims.

To talk about a sector in which the phenomenon is there for all to see, we can mention the sector of production and refining of fossil fuels, whose companies are spending huge economic resources to create a greener reputation.

But it is also interesting to note, for example, the information that consumers can find on a bottle of detergent, in which we often read the phrase: Recyclable Product.

There is no doubt that it is a correct statement, an HDPE bottle made with virgin polymer is recyclable, but it is misleading, if also combined with acronyms or drawings that make you imagine the nature and care of the ecosystem, inducing the consumer to buy a bottle that does not follow the principles of the circular economy.

In fact, in order to respect the rules of the circularity of raw materials, the bottle must be made of recycled plastic and, on the label, there must be a sentence similar to : bottle made with recycled material that can be recycled again.

The European Commission has sent member states a warning of attention to these unfair practices with the exhortation to monitor and punish those who transgress the rules.

It is always important for the consumer to inquire before making a purchase, trying to get a clear picture of what is recycled, recyclable or falsely recycled, comparing more products and information that manufacturers distribute to the market.

Automatic translation. We apologize for any inaccuracies. Original article in Italian.

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