Amazon Aware brand falls foul of greenwashing accusation
Retailers are continuing to be tripped up by green claims as aspects of their supply chains that are less than 100% green generate negative press coverage.
The latest issue is with Amazon with, The Telegraph reporting some problematic aspects around its Amazon Aware brand.
The e-tail giant launched the line to offer “conscious” and “more-sustainable” choices to shoppers. The Aware brand includes a wide range of items, with clothing part of the mix.
But the newspaper said that of 20 Aware items its reporter ordered, 10% were wrapped in single-use plastic, even though some arrived in the same box. The entire range includes 103 items. The items also arrived in large brown boxes padded out with brown paper, which is standard for Amazon deliveries.
Such a situation is ever more likely to receive public scrutiny as consumers demand more green options when they shop and as supply chains that might have been considered ‘green enough’ not so many years ago are re-assessed in the light of greater greenwashing awareness.
The Telegraph also said that many of the pieces were made abroad — which meant extra problems created by a long-distance supply chain. Three pairs of socks costing £17.80 were not only wrapped in clear plastic, but were made in Pakistan.
However, the newspaper quoted an Amazon source saying its eco-certifications for the brand are “relevant and meaningful to each product”.
The company uses greener materials (such as certified organic cotton) and pieces are made using less carbon-intensive processes. Working conditions in the relevant factories are “socially responsible” and the company is transparent about its suppliers.
As for the carbon emissions in its supply chain, Amazon aims to reduce the impact of such issues by offsetting carbon emissions with all Aware items claimed to be carbon-neutral.
But critics have said that the lack of visibility around some international supply chains means it’s hard to know the actual carbon footprint of a product made outside of local markets.
The newspaper’s report comes as the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK continues to investigate ASOS, Boohoo Group and Asda over potential greenwashing.
While it’s undeniable that brands and retailers are doing much more than they used to go greener, one greenwashing problem is the perception their marketing creates.
Cecilia Parker Aranha, director of consumer protection at the CMA told the newspaper there’s “a risk of creating an impression that the manufacture of a product doesn’t impact the environment. Unless we can tackle greenwashing... it’s going to take a lot longer to get to where we need to be.”
Others have said carbon offsetting schemes can be bad as the carbon emissions still happen and could give consumers a false sense that progress is being made.
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