Building consumer trust in eco-claims

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As public awareness of climate change increases, we see business and government beginning to rise to the challenge by changing the type of solutions available throughout the market. Businesses are reducing their environmental footprints and promoting their green claims on product labels and through retail channels. But how do consumers know which ‘green’ claims to trust? What should business and Government do to build confidence in these products and services? And will the market ultimately allow us to buy ourselves out of this collective climate change challenge? Lloyd’s Register has recently co-sponsored the ‘What Assures Consumers?’ survey by AccountAbility and Consumers International. The findings suggest that independent verification of businesses’ environmental claims is critical to building consumer trust. Deborah Evans discusses the research results and the challenges of finding solutions which make sense for business and the planet.

Calculating your carbon footprint

For businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact, the initial process of calculating an accurate carbon footprint can leave them confused before they have even begun. A number of calculators exist on the market (including the Government’s CO2 calculator launched in June 2007), but the type of indicators which are included and the scope of their coverage within the supply chain are often different. Businesses, quite rationally, want to assure stakeholders of their real carbon impact, instead of just a convenient approximation. But, the depth and extent of business’ individual responsibilities inside supply chains are still unclear. Should a milk producer accept full carbon responsibility for the methane that its cows emit or should the butcher claim some of it as well? Should he take responsibility for the impacts of his customers’ refrigerators or should manufacturers, customers, or the other food retailers share it? Quantifying such complex, process-driven activities can be quite challenging to standardise across companies let alone industries.

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