24 Jul 2023, 13:42
Jennifer Collins

Consumers avoid businesses linked to greenwashing claims – survey


The vast majority of consumers avoid companies linked to greenwashing, a survey seen by business daily Handelsblatt has found. Some 72 percent of respondents in the survey conducted by the non-profit Nuremberg Institute for Market Decision (NIM) said they steer clear of businesses accused of making false climate protection statements. “It’s a real dilemma for businesses,” NIM head Andreas Neus said. “Consumers are already punishing them even if they are just being accused of greenwashing.” The organisation surveyed some 8,000 consumers in eight countries, including in the U.S. and in Germany. Around two-thirds of respondents said they buy from companies that advertise their sustainability pledges, with 76 percent considering those claims more credible if businesses show how their figures were calculated or have credible certification. For 71 percent of respondents, cooperation with environmental organisations improves credibility. But just 23 percent said they would trust a company’s climate pledges if those have celebrity endorsement. NIM also surveyed decision-makers in 800 companies, half of which said their company has sustainability pledges, while one in three had been publicly accused of greenwashing.

The EU has recently proposed detailed rules for companies to back up green claims on products by making them more specific and providing more information to consumers. Products advertised as “climate neutral” mislead consumers because the vast majority of people don’t have a clear idea what the claim means, according to a 2022 survey conducted by a German consumer advice centre. Most claims still rely on questionable commitments to compensate continued emissions elsewhere in the world, inviting accusations that this trend is nothing but greenwashing. However, it can also be a clear sign that companies realise that consumers want climate action.

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