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📰 Recent green news

  • 15 August: The Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) accuses McDonald's of executing a misleading Greenwashing campaign in Germany that promotes single-use packaging as environmentally friendly, despite the products containing only a minority of recycled material from disposable cups and the rest being new material, all while inhibiting federal efforts to shift towards reusable packaging.
  • 16 August: The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) defends the recyclability of disposable vapes amid complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about misleading 'green awareness' campaigns, as new research reveals that nearly two million disposable vapes are improperly disposed of weekly in the UK, contributing to a 62% increase in bin lorry fires over the past two years.
    • The why: The gap between corporate green claims and actual environmental impact poses, when improper disposal comes into play, both environmental and safety risks.
  • 18 August: FMCG giants accused of greenwashing and urged to improve climate transition plans as they do not comply with the Paris Agreement.
    • Planet Tracker's analysis finds 51% of P&G and 30% of Colgate-Palmolive's operating income at risk due to slow decarbonization and inadequate preparation for potential carbon pricing mechanisms. Notably, both companies' current emission pathways far exceed the Paris Agreement limits, particularly in the area of Scope 3 (indirect) emissions from the upstream supply chain.
  • 21 August: The German Environmental Aid (DUH) opens this year's public voting for the "Golden Vulture 2023", an award for the most brazen green claim of the year that has turned out to be an environmental lie. Five companies and products have been nominated from several hundred entries: McDonald's, Lidl, Vattenfall, Costa Cruises and Climate Fuels.
    • The why: The award shines a spotlight on corporate greenwashing, aiming to hold companies accountable for misleading environmental claims and promote consumer awareness.
  • 22 August: Greenpeace criticizes Formula 1 for greenwashing, alleging that its sustainability projects are superficial and its plans for climate neutrality by 2030 are misleading. Particularly mentioned is that the racing calendar continues to expand and relies heavily on logistics and travel, which contribute to 73% of Formula 1's 256,000-ton CO2 footprint.
    • The why: This case highlights a high-profile instance of alleged greenwashing, calling into question the credibility of corporate sustainability efforts in major global sports organizations like Formula 1.
  • 01 September: The Initiative Together For Carbon Labelling (TCL), backed by seven companies including Nestlé and Oatly, proposes a legally mandated climate label on food products to display the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during production.
    • The why: The proposal for a standardized climate label on food items offers a potential solution to the problem of non-comparable climate claims currently found on food packaging.

🔍 Deep dive

'Money really does grow on trees': Are wooden bank cards the more sustainable alternative to our plastic ones?

holzkarte-volksbank-haselnne-vollholz-kundenkarte-kontokarte-girokarte-holzImage courtesy of Daniel Gonzalez-Tepper

The gist:

  • In a bid to improve their environmental footprint, various Volks- and Raiffeisenbanks have taken the initiative to issue wooden Girocards. The pressing question remains: Is this an authentic stride towards sustainability, or is it merely greenwashing in disguise?

The specifics:

  • Deutsche Bank has already adopted recycled plastic as the material for their cards. But some banks and fintechs, such as Tomorrow, are taking it a step further by employing sustainably sourced cherry wood veneer.
  • GLS-Bank, also part of the cooperative banking sphere, was one of the pioneers in issuing cards made from wood veneer last autumn. These cards are said to be plastic-core-free.
  • The new sustainable cards provided by DG Nexolution are composed of 90% wood (FSC-certified maple from Switzerland and Germany) and 10% paper and biodegradable adhesive.
  • While initial numbers are modest, with around 50,000 wooden cards planned for this year, there are ambitious plans to issue "several million" in the coming year.

The why:

  • While these wooden cards are certainly an innovation, they still often require the standard components such as a chip, antenna, and magnetic strip—all of which have their own environmental costs. So it remains an open task to achieve a complete elimination of these high-impact components, maybe in favor of fully digital solutions.

The soundbites:

  • "We as GLS Bank stand with our customers for sustainable business. They can now show this with every payment transaction with the wooden bank card. In this way, ecological products can also be paid for ecologically.” - Thomas Jormann, Spokesman of the Executive Board of GLS, about the GLS plastic-free bank card.
  • "A sustainable transformation cannot be achieved with 'fancy features' like a wooden bank card alone.” - Laura Wirtz, Head of Daily Banking & Payments from ING Deutschland, remains skeptical and denies that there will be a wooden card at ING.

An Outlook:

  • Though not a panacea, wooden cards represent a transition technology that has its merits while the industry works toward more comprehensive digital solutions. It provides a valuable lesson on how sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all journey but requires incremental changes with an end goal in mind.

That is all we have for now. Thank you for reading 🙌 Share this issue with others and subscribe for more insights about product compliance and sustainability.

I lead the business side at House of Change, where my team and I are on a mission to build the Product Compliance Copilot™, Prior to launching House of Change in 2022, I served as a managing director at Best Nights VC (Jägermeister), learned about startegy & impact at McKinsey, and spent time selling toothpaste at Colgate-Palmolive. When I'm not at my desk, you can find me cycling through Europe on my touring bike or trying to inspire men to embrace yoga through herrenyoga (https://www.instagram.com/herrenyoga)