Greenwashing UK

Here are 20 examples of greenwashing allegations or controversies from the UK up to January 2022. Please note that some of these examples might be contested or debated. Let me know if you have updates:

  1. BP (Beyond Petroleum) – British Petroleum changed its name to BP and launched a “Beyond Petroleum” campaign, promoting itself as an environmentally-friendly company. Critics claim that this was a greenwashing attempt given the company’s continued heavy investment in fossil fuels. Reference: The Guardian (2010)
  2. Coca-Cola’s “Love Story” Ad – The advert showed bottles “falling in love” because they were recycled. However, at the time, a small fraction of their bottles were made from recycled material in the UK. Reference: The Independent (2017)
  3. E.ON’s Solar Rewards – The energy company promoted its Solar Rewards scheme but it was found that it could benefit only a small fraction of its customers. Reference: The Guardian (2018)
  4. EasyJet’s “EcoJet” – The airline announced plans for a new “EcoJet” but it was never built. Reference: The Guardian (2007)
  5. Heathrow Airport Expansion – The airport promoted the idea that their expansion could be carbon neutral, an assertion that environmentalists contested. Reference: The Guardian (2020)
  6. H&M’s Conscious Collection – Although the line is marketed as sustainable, the fast fashion business model of H&M was still criticized for being fundamentally unsustainable. Reference: The Guardian (2019)
  7. HSBC – They were once criticized for investing in projects that led to deforestation while simultaneously running a green campaign. Reference: The Independent (2008)
  8. Kellogg’s Origins – Marketed as a farmer-friendly initiative, but its primary aim appeared to be gathering consumer data. Reference: The Guardian (2014)
  9. Lloyds’ green bonds – Although Lloyds offered green bonds, they also invested in fossil fuel projects. Reference: BankTrack
  10. M&S Plastic Toy Giveaway – While M&S has shown commitment to reducing plastic waste, their “Little Shop” giveaway that included small plastic versions of products was seen as contradictory. Reference: The Telegraph (2019)
  11. McDonald’s paper straws – They introduced paper straws to reduce plastic waste, but these straws were not recyclable. Reference: BBC (2019)
  12. Nestlé’s plastic offset scheme – The scheme was criticized for being an attempt to distract from the issue of plastic pollution. Reference: The Guardian (2020)
  13. Primark’s Sustainable Cotton Programme – Although they launched this programme, the larger fast fashion model of Primark is seen by some as inherently unsustainable. Reference: Ethical Consumer
  14. Shell’s “Make the Future” Campaign – The campaign highlighted clean energy solutions, but the majority of the company’s investments were still in oil and gas. Reference: The Guardian (2019)
  15. Tesco’s carbon footprint labels – Tesco promised carbon footprint labels on their products, but the initiative was later dropped. Reference: The Guardian (2012)
  16. Unilever’s Love Beauty and Planet – Critics argued that while the brand touts sustainability, Unilever as a whole had a larger environmental footprint. Reference: Forbes (2019)
  17. Volkswagen’s Dieselgate – Not a purely UK scandal, but it impacted the UK significantly. The company claimed their cars were low emission, but they had rigged tests to hide their true environmental impact. Reference: BBC (2015)
  18. Waitrose Farming Partnership – Waitrose promoted their partnership as environmentally friendly, but concerns were raised about some of the practices. Reference: The Guardian (2016)
  19. Whitbread – The company, which owns Costa Coffee and Premier Inn, was criticized for not going far enough with their recycling efforts. Reference: The Independent (2017)
  20. Zara’s “Sustainable” Collection – Critics argued that while the collection was a step forward, the brand’s fast fashion model still led to significant waste and overproduction. Reference: Elle (2016)

Please note that these examples are based on claims and controversies and the perspectives can be subjective. Always ensure to do further research on each case for a comprehensive understanding.