“On balance, despite a growing chorus of corporate commitments and actions, we’re less optimistic that these activities, in aggregate, are addressing planetary problems at sufficient scale and speed,” wrote Mr. Makower, who is executive editor with Greener World Media, Inc.
According to the report, a rise in green marketing efforts has been matched by a nearly equal rise in claims of greenwashing by activists, bloggers and others. Some of the largest consumer brands have entered the green marketplace, prodded by retailers such as Wal-Mart, which has been pushing suppliers to offer affordable green products.
But with the new players and products has come a new wave of claims about greenwashing, or at least public frustration that companies aren’t doing enough, aren’t telling their stories well, or both, the report stated. An Earth Day report revealed that in 2007 there was the largest number of green trademark applications since 2000, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with more than 300,000 applications recorded for green brand names, logos, and tag lines. Yet given the lack of definitions about what is green and natural, just about anything can be claimed as “green” or “greenwash,” which the authors say further muddies the waters.
The need for “green chemistry” is clear, according to the authors, who added that there continue to be “substantive gaps” in understanding the health and environmental effects for the great majority of the 83,000 chemical substances listed in the federal government’s inventory.
On the packaging side, the overall intensity of the U.S. packaging needs, as measured in thousands of tons of paper, plastic, and aluminum per billion dollars of gross domestic product dipped in 2007. In most of the categories tracked in the report, packaging use is down, however plastics increased between 2006 and 2007. Yet, according to data from the American Chemistry Council, the amount of plastics recovered and recycled year over year is steadily increasing.
The report highlighted SC Johnson, which has been gradually and systematically substituting safer chemicals for toxic ones as part of its Greenlist protocol, as well as Church & Dwight for its new line of cleaners that are shipped in empty and reusable 32-oz. spray bottles with smaller concentrated bottles of cleaner.
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