Music industry leads fight against 'greenwash'
It seems everyone wants to be 'carbon neutral', 'wholly sustainable' and 'low emission' as businesses and organisations realise the importance of the environment in the market place. But now advertising watchdogs are clamping down on some of the more unsustainable claims - or greenwash - after a soaring number of compliants form the public. Recently British Gas, Shell and Scottish & Southern Energy have been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee for Advertising Practice is about to announce new plans to tighten up codes for green marketing. The ASA found that Shell had exaggerated claims that it used it's waste CO2 to grow flowers - only 0.325% of its emissions where used this way. British Gas was criticised for an advert in which a blue cartoon flame falls and squashes a CO2 symbol to denote the group's green credentials. The ASA found that British Gas's claim that it's fuel was 'carbon zero' was misleading because the fuel did produce carbon - the company just offset the emissions elsewhere. The majority of complains to the ASA are about words like 'carbon neutral' and its clear that consumers are quickly wising up to misleading marketing claims although scientific grey areas around certain technologies and a lack of official definitions of some terms mean that sometimes policing greenwash is a challenge.
It's good to see that the music industry is really spearheading a realistic and clear approach to new standards and Julie's Bicycle is leading the way. Whilst a new British Standard BS8901 has been brought in as a benchmark for promoting sustainable management systems for live events, music industry campaign group A Greener Festival are again offering their very practical 'Greener Festival Award' in 2009 for music festivals who sign up to a 26 point action plan, implement sustainable practices, fill in a 54 question self assessment and allow independent environmental auditors to visit their site. Last year 34 festivals earned the award including Waveform, Glastonbury, T-in-the-Park and Latitude in the UK, Bonnaroo and Rothbury in the USA and Bluesfest in Australia.
And now Julie's Bicycle is launching a credible new standards scheme called INDUSTRY GREEN. The aim of the scheme is to promote real environmental initiatives and change - and allow companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions on a year by year basis. Excitingly, the BRIT Awards 2009 CD compilation is the first of the BRIT albums to be made from eco-friendly packaging and has been awarded the industry green mark by Julie’s Bicycle. SonyBMG have confirmed that the double CD will be packaged using FSC-certified paper (Forest Stewardship Council). This means it reduces the consumer’s carbon footprint by over 50% when compared to plastic tray-based packaging!