Yesterday, I was contacted by the PR firm for a large orange juice manufacturing company asking me to help promote something or other in exchange for a giveaway worth a $200 gift card for a high end outdoor apparel company. The hook was that the actor promoting their product was interested in green living.
As tempted as I was (on your behalf, of course), I failed to see the connection between the actor's personal interests and the company being green so I asked, since I had yet to see anything sustainable or organic about their products. I was forwarded some information on the company and how it was going green.
Basically, the primary message was that the company is "dedicated to using the Earth's natural resources in a responsible manner and has made sustainability part of its mission. The company works toward environmental sustainability by reducing, reusing and recycling whenever possible, and overall pursuing initiatives that help preserve the environment for generations to come."
It then went on to say how they have partnered with Cool Earth to help protect the rainforest and that they even went so far as to have the carbon footprint of each half gallon of OJ calculated. All laudable actions, but where's the juice?
Well, their cartons are made largely of a renewable resource (85% paper and 15% polymer). Umm. Okay. How about using recycled materials? That would certainly be considered a bigger commitment. Saying they are using a renewable resource like virgin paper products is certainly better than, say, using plutonium, but is that really something they should be tooting their horn about?
Most of the other things mentioned certainly have a positive environmental impact as a result (like recycling and reducing water usage) but, underlying it all I would gather is the cost savings resulting from reducing operations, packaging and energy costs.
Finally they state, "a driving force behind this mission is Pepsico's Performance with Purpose approach: injecting a commitment to social and environmental performance into all of its businesses."
Would that be... greenwashing?
The thing that would have the biggest impact in showing their commitment to the environment would be to source their oranges from producers using organic or sustainable growing practices, instead of their "save the rainforest" legerdemain. The reduction in pesticides alone would have a more positive impact than buying a few acres of rainforest.
But, that would make their product more expensive and they would lose market share. You see, a half gallon of Organic Valley Orange Juice (in my area) is $5.99. It'll cost ya $6.99 if you like pulp. Compare this to the mainstream stuff made from what I like to call, "downed oranges", which sells for $3.99. There's just not that big a market for high end OJ, methinks. And, it certainly looks better to pretend like you are a green company even if your products aren't so green. Or orange, for that matter.
Commitment to the environment? Maybe. Most likely it's a whole lot of business acumen coupled with a lot of greenwashing.
What do you think?