Message on a Bottle Labelled as Greenwash
Australia's oldest and largest environmental organisation faces mutiny
in its ranks after its pledge to plant a tree for every bottle of
water sold was branded a clear-cut case of greenwash.
An official who works under the umbrella of Landcare Australia has
blasted the company for allowing Coca-Cola Amatil to use its logo
on a marketing campaign for its water brand Mount Franklin.
Coca-Cola pays Landcare Australia $150,000 to plant 250,000 trees
to offset greenhouse gas emissions generated by the manufacture and
distribution of 8 million plastic bottles.
But Nanette Lamrock, based in the northern NSW region around Armidale,
yesterday said the tie-up gave Coca-Cola carte blanche to "almost
rape the environment" only for Landcare volunteers "to put it back
She said Coca-Cola's business aims conflicted with those of Landcare,
which was set up to plant trees in deforested areas.
"For them to use the logo is embarrassing for the volunteers and the
grassroots people who work hard to repair the landscape," said Ms
Lamrock, who says other volunteers have expressed unease at companies
whose operations damage the environment using the Landcare logo. "Landcare
Australia has lost touch with its ethics," she said.
Landcare receives $7 million a year from aluminum manufacturers, energy
companies and GM Holden, despite the fact that the car manufacturer
is no closer to launching an environmentally-friendly model.
"The people who care for the land don't need to be used by a corporate
giant who is only interested in greenwashing public opinion and tricking
people living in the city into thinking they are doing the correct
thing by the environment by purchasing their product."
Mount Franklin dominates the $544 million bottled water market and
is an expert in marketing campaigns that tap into community issues:
its pink lid campaign to pledge $1 for cancer research for every wish
made through its website is one of the most successful marketing campaigns
in recent history.
The chief executive of Landcare Australia, Brian Scarsbrick, said
he was aware of "some" concerns about the deal but that the positives
outweighed the negatives. "We are a middle-of-the-road environmental
organisation and we like to work with big companies to influence them
to a more sustainable position," he said.
Its spokeswoman, Sally Loane, said Coca-Cola Amatil was an industry
leader in saving water, citing beverage industry figures showing bottled
water accounts for just 0.01 per cent of aquifer reserves.
"Any individual who claims we 'rape the environment' is speaking from
the depths of ignorance. The facts reveal a very different picture.
Can we do better? Of course, but we are committed to being a good
corporate citizen, particularly when it comes to water," she said.
But the organiser of the Bottled Water Alliance, Jon Dee, said: "One
has to ask the question whether Coke has done this deal to distract
attention away from the serious environmental questions that are now
being asked of the bottled water industry. In particular the issues
of water sourcing and the climate, waste and litter impact of bottled
water, as well as the extremely low recycling rate for plastic water
"Given the current level of criticism being levelled at the bottled
water industry, even the less cynical could be forgiven for thinking
that this is just a greenwash exercise."
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