Greenwashing is not always intentional – in many cases, accidental greenwashing results from incorrect or misinterpreted data from the supply chain and can jeopardize your ESG program.
Expert commentary by Patrick Klaver
Greenwashing is not always intentional – in many cases, it results from incorrect or misinterpreted data from the supply chain. Patrick Klaver, MD Europe at Assent Inc. (Assent), a leading provider in the field of sustainability management in supply chains, explains how this can happen and how companies can prevent this danger.
The demand for sustainable products is growing, enticing more companies to engage in extensive ESG communication. But if in the course of external research, it turns out that the statements made do not correspond to reality, there is a risk of greenwashing allegations and thus a huge long-term loss of reputation and trust on the customer side. Before companies adorn themselves with sustainability or publish ESG reports, they should ensure a well-founded basis of transparent and reliable data.
Accidental greenwashing in the supply chain leads to domino effects
Greenwashing is often not the result of deliberate deception. The problem often lies in the fact that data from the supply chain is unavailable, incorrect, or misinterpreted. Depending on the industry, up to 98% of the ecological footprint does not come from its own production but from the supply chain, according to the UN. If a supplier engages in greenwashing, knowingly or unknowingly, this has a domino effect that jeopardizes the ESG goals of all subsequent companies in the supply chain.
To support one’s own ESG program, it is essential to ensure a transparent supply chain – especially for manufacturers of complex products. A well-founded database ensures that your own ESG communication withstands due diligence and that sustainability communication does not become a danger. It also guarantees compliance with regulations, and the transparency gained allows you to improve your own ESG performance.
Companies that want to communicate sustainability should set up a sustainability management program for their supply chain that can grow over time. The first step is product compliance and a reliable system for collecting product data. This can serve as a basis for due diligence to gain deeper insight into the supply chain. Assent proposes a tiered model that grows from basic compliance to full sustainability management over time.