Have you ever heard the term greenwashing? I admit I had not (though I should have given my general distrust of pretty much most marketing messages). When I shop and see a cereal label that says 75% organic, am I a heel for falling for it? No, I laugh and just assume marketing gimmick. Greenwashing, according to Enviromedia Social Marketing and the University of Oregon, relates to, when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be green through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. These two organizations (the social marketing company and the university) have gone so far as to create a Greenwashing Index to rate the b.s. factor in ads touting environmental qualities. Okay, to make this real, let me provide a sense of what some of the worst offenders do:
- Here is one on Pennsylvania coal
- Here is another one from BMW South Africa (though I personally would not have put this one in the worst offenders category as it is a real tribute to metal sculpting, but okay)
- Finally a green credit card (give me a break)
You get the point. So guess who found themselves in the middle of a greenwashing campaign? Lil ole Reynolds Wrap ¦you know, the stuff in the drawer next to your stove? In this blog from US News and World Report, writer Maura Judkis de-bunks the criticism made of Reynolds, specifically that it’s 100% recycled aluminum, 100% recycled paperboard packaging and 100% Reynolds tough, is basically, not new. But Judkis says she talked to Reynolds who said, “Until recently, reliable and high quality sources of recycled aluminum have been inconsistent and not to the standard we require for the strength and durability of Reynolds Wrap,” said a spokesperson for Reynolds. The un-recycled foil is made from virgin aluminum made from bauxite.
We would add that because aluminum foil requires such high purity (e.g. .99%), it can be difficult to find scrap and re-melt materials which will meet the desired chemical composition. However, there are companies who produce foil from a melt mix of primary and scrap to make continuous cast coils. We would surmise though that the big household foil players (Reynolds, Norandal) have traditionally smelted and rolled foil from raw materials (as opposed to recycled products). Here is an FAQ from Reynolds. So, the greenwashing critique seems unduly harsh. Score one for the metals industry.
I suspect we’ll see plenty more metal eco-friendly/green innovations. Drop us a line if you think we ought to cover any of them. In the meantime, I think I better be careful about what I greenwash!