The Grey Area of Building a Green Business

Posted by John Park on Aug 19th, 2008
2008
Aug 19

plastic water bottle

 

What is more green, a plastic water bottle or a paper water box?  According to a recent article posted on MSNBC, the answer is not as clear as you think.  Here is a quick summary along with my input.
 
If you haven’t noticed yet, there is new kind of gold rush happening in the business community.  Anything green and sustainable is getting traction in all industries as entrepreneurs strive to capitalize on the social movement.  And, it’s no surprise that many businesses are jumping in with both feet.  This is especially true because marketing your business as green for the most part is not regulated.  Basically, what you claim about the product and its environmentally friendly attributes are, unless you’re selling chemicals, unchecked until you have the bad luck of being held responsible for your claims by an environmental group.
 
This is exactly what happened to a not so little green company that sells purified water in an innovative way.  The idea was simple.  Put water in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles.  Sounds green, right?  At the very least, their thought process was admirable but the company soon learned that going green was not as easy and straightforward as it sounds.
 
Environmental groups would say… NOT SO FAST.
 
 
1)  Their water boxes, manufactured by Tetra Pak (they make most of the world’s milk cartons), are composed of 20% polyethylene.  The production of the water boxes impose the same environmental costs (depletion of scarce oil, greenhouse gas emissions) as 100% plastic water bottles, only in reduced proportion.
 
2)  Only about 25% of plastic water bottles get recycled.  For water boxes, the percentage is much lower.  Apparently, only one in five Americans live in a community that offers curbside recycling.  And, no one will pay you 10 cents for turning in a cardboard water box.
 
 
In this example, it can be argued that a plastic water bottle is more green than a cardboard water box.
 
The point of this post is to urge all entrepreneurs hoping to cash-in on the green movement to proceed with caution.  Do your research and be completely aware of your manufacturing process.  Before you proclaim your product to be green, sustainable and environmentally friendly, you must be 100% sure of your claim’s accuracy and…truthfulness.
 
The true to the core green consumer is not as easygoing as the rest of us green-wannabes.

 

 

3 Responses

  1. Katherine Says:

    I always wondered about that…THANKS.
    Katherine

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