CPG brands assailed over misleading sustainability claims

The trend: With an unprecedented heat wave hitting much of Europe, there’s a growing call for brands to take meaningful action against climate change. It’s also put a greater focus on brands’ greenwashing practices.

  • Numerous consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, including Coca-Cola and Unilever, have made false sustainability claims on products, according to a report from Changing Markets Foundation.
  • Climate-related lawsuits, including those tied to corporate greenwashing, are picking up steam, per a recent report.

Marketing miscues: Companies across the spectrum, from fashion and food brands to airlines, are being taken to task for perpetuating false claims to woo more eco-conscious consumers.

  • H&M removed scorecards showcasing the environmental soundness of clothing products after a report unveiled the inaccuracy of its sustainability statements.
  • In April, Gorton’s was accused of falsely marketing tilapia as “sustainably sourced” in a Massachusetts lawsuit that contends the fish is farmed in China using inhumane methods.
  • Procter & Gamble’s Head and Shoulders shampoo purports to be made out of “beach plastic,” giving the impression that pollution is being reduced but doing nothing to decrease the use of plastics.

Why it matters: Many consumers face conflicting priorities now—the desire to shop more sustainably while keeping prices in mind as inflation ratchets up, per Morning Consult.

  • Over half of UK online adults (57%) surveyed by YouGov for Deloitte stated a preference to buy more sustainable products if they were more affordable.
  • Consumer interest in adopting a more sustainable lifestyle has risen in the past year, per Deloitte.

The big takeaway: Companies need to be wary of making false claims about sustainability measures, as it could cost them consumer trust. Brands need to remain transparent around green efforts and be able to back up claims in their advertising.