I like to keep things simple when it comes to greenwashing. I reserve this term for cases of blatant misrepresentation, lack of commitment, conflict in practice, and inconsistency. After a CSR initiative passes the greenwashing test, I examine its magnitude: what is the impact and how can it be improved? I’ll be examining Tropicana’s new “Resscue the Rainforest” campaign by first looking for signs of greenwashing before weighing its social impact.
“Rescue the Rainforest” Campaign
Tropicana, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc., has teamed up with Cool Earth, an international non-governmental organization, to launch the “Rescue the Rainforest,” cause marketing campaign to protect endangered rainforests. This campaign runs through 2009 and with a goal of protecting 15,000 acres in addition to the 5,000 acres that Tropicana is already protecting.
Specially marked Tropicana products, such as Tropicana Pure Premium® and Trop50™, will carry an 11-digit code which, when entered on Tropicanarainforest.com/, will protect 100 sq feet of rainforest land for a minimum of three years. There is no limit to how many codes someone can submit and people can enter as individuals or teams. They will also be able to visually track their contribution and watch it grow with a map tool driven by Google Maps. To encourage a little friendly competition, the site prominently displays a leaderboard which displays the top five teams and individuals by square footage.
The site has also recently launched a fun flash-based game called Rainforest Rescue where you can lob oranges at loggers. Steve Puma of 3p covers it here.
Governments, corporations, and individuals have increasingly turned to the voluntary carbon market in recent years in an effort to offset their carbon footprint. The market grew to approximately $330 million in 2007 (Reuters). Much of this growth can be attributed to the increased popularity of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and an increased appreciation for social responsibility.
There are two discrete markets for carbon offsets — the compliance market, and the voluntary market. Compliance market demand is driven in large part by regulations that set carbon emissions caps for different entities from companies to governments. Carbon emissions over this cap must be offset by purchasing carbon offsets or face steep fines. But unlike the much larger compliance market, where regulation drives demand, the voluntary market has a larger risk exposure to economic downturns, as the name suggests, it is voluntary.