Communication for sustainable products
The Market - MU Sustainable Innovation
Green marketing is the term used for a set of marketing and communication actions aimed at increasing the visibility of sustainable products or services, while focusing on their positive effects on the environment. An ISO standard (14021 of 2002, Environmental labels and declarations - Self-declared environmental claims) defines 7 requisites for correct environmental information, with a view to preventing the spread of misleading information to consumers.
Information on sustainability must be clear, comprehensible and appropriate for the target of consumers it is addressed to. While the use of technical terms makes communication unclear in the case of a household product, technicalities are instead appropriate for a B2B product. Clear communication should never be ambiguous about the components of the product to which it refers: does the recyclable specification on a pack refer to the packaging or its content?
Accuracy and specificity
Communication must refer to specific environmental content and never be generic. The widespread use of expressions like eco-, environmentally friendly, non-polluting is generic. Even the term “green” is generic. Accurate information must be complete and impartial. The “recycled” term must be accompanied by the percentage of recycled material contained in the product and the “biodegradable” term must be followed by an indication of the time needed for product degradation.
Communication must focus on genuinely significant aspects. The emphasis on the use of natural dyes in the manufacturing of a fabric made from fibers that were produced with polluting agents or, vice-versa, the focus on the natural fibers of a fabric that was later dyed using toxic substances, are both practices to be condemned. The same holds true in the case of the emphasis put on the absence of chemicals prohibited by law, which are therefore absent from all products of that same category on the market.
The environmental benefits must be effective in relation to the market in which the products are sold. The term “recyclable” for the packaging of a product sold in a country where there is no segregated waste collection is basically irrelevant, because even though it is potentially recyclable it will be sent to a landfill along with general waste.
The statements must be accompanied by data obtained by applying widespread, recognized, scientifically sound and reproducible methodologies.
In order to compare the characteristics of sustainability in alternative products present in the market, the relevant terms of comparison must be clear and unambiguous. It is necessary to clearly specify the methodologies and parameters used for the comparison.
The criteria used to make environmental and sustainability claims and statements visible are important. The use of images and symbols, with their evocative and emotional reach, must meet the requirements in terms of clarity, easy interpretation and consistency with the reference systems already considered as standard on the market.