Now Reading
Explainer: What is Greenwashing? It’s deception and vague promises to do no good for the environment.
[vc_row thb_full_width=”true” thb_row_padding=”true” thb_column_padding=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1608290870297{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][thb_postcarousel style=”style3″ navigation=”true” infinite=”” source=”size:6|post_type:post”][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Explainer: What is Greenwashing? It’s deception and vague promises to do no good for the environment.

Oct 26, 2012 (Reuters) – What appears friendly to the environment, but isn’t? Greenwashing.

This phrase refers to painting something “green”, or being environmentally friendly. It also describes exaggerated or misleading claims that a country or company is stewards for the environment, but not taking any real action. It will be one of the many things on the agenda as countries gather in Scotland for the COP26 Climate Talks.


Register now for unlimited FREE access at

Common phrases used in greenwashing include “Eco”, “green”, and “natural”. They are not restricted in scope and there is no scientific norm to adhere to, even though some regulators tried to set limits. What makes a product “sustainable?”

Items that are going to landfill may be recyclable, even if it is not possible to recycle them.

Some of these claims may be challenged by regulators and courts as well as the public.

Quinn Emanuel’s 2021 review found that there are several examples of apparel makers that use recycled fabrics, but have coal-powered plants, oil companies claiming they are renewable energy leaders, and cooking oils made with genetically modified organisms, but branded as “natural”.

It noted that investment companies are subject to regulatory scrutiny for claims about the environmental credentials of stock funds.

Greenpeace, an environmental activist group, is seen blocking Pernis Shell harbour in Rotterdam with kayakers and a vessel to protest against “greenwashing” advertisements. This was on October 4, 2021. REUTERS/Evaplevier


According to Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority, four out of 10 websites promoted products and/or services in a misleading way.


Look for claims that are verifiable.

Cynthia Cummis co-founder of Science Based Targets initiative which works with companies in setting emission targets, stated, “Make sure these claims are made and validated by third parties.”

She said that it is important to investigate the ways in which a group is reducing its own emissions. “Look at their wider policies and actions, not just the narrow claim they make about one product.


It becomes harder to convince people that their actions are important when greenwashing is used to undermine confidence in companies, governments, and consumer goods.

Register now for unlimited FREE access at

Reporting by Peter Henderson. Editing and editing by Rosalba Ohrien

Our Standards The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.