European Teenage Consumers in a Globalized world
 European Teenage Consumers in a Globalized world 

Greenwashing in food production: fast food and sweet treats

There are many examples of  "greenwashing" in the food industry. Greenwashing is the deceptive behaviour of companies which pretend that their products and service are eco-friendly. They even spend a lot of money on "green marketing". However, in many cases this seems to be far from the truth. Here are some examples..

1. Greenwashed Fast food

Subway is one of the most famous fast food companies in the world. It has over 36,000 locations in 98 countries, being the second largest fast food company in the world.  In various commercials and ads, the company seems to be environmentally friendly. For example, a Subway commercial says: “What if making the world a better place was as easy as getting a sandwich?“

This refers to the company's ad campaign which points out its positive effects on the environment. However this statement appears to be quite questionable. In fact, only 14 out of 22,000 stores present in the US are “Eco – stores“, which means they use water efficient technologies, energy efficient innovations and recycled materials. Although the company claims to have successfully cut carbon emissions, it would take only a few dozen stores to eliminate this progress and add perhaps three times as much pollution as it saves.

What is more, Subway hasn't announced any plan for reducing the carbon footprint neither has it started using renewable energy to power its stores yet.

McDonald's is another giant in  the fast food industry, serving over 64,000 customers every day in over 33,500 restaurants in more than 119 countries. This huge production becomes the environment's first enemy. For example, every cheeseburger generates around 3 kilos of carbon dioxide, which leads to infinite numbers considering the sandwiches' huge production.

McDonald's marketing decisions consists of touting its LEED – certified restaurants and allying with Greenpeace to save the Amazon forest. However, despite its commitment to the environment, it doesn't extend to telling us what contribution its activities make to climate change.

Yum!, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is a corporation of even greater size than McDonald's. It promotes sustainability projects as well.  Most of KFC's green claims relate to the packaging it uses, with pictures of trees and logos like “Great taste, less waste!“ or “Renew, reuse, rejoice!“. But, unfortunately, there are many controversies, too. For example, the company had set the goal to reduce global energy consumption by 10% by 2015, referring to company owned stores relative to 2005. This  sounded impressive, until it was discovered that the number of company owned- stores was less than in 2005 and that, in the meantime, the number of non-company-owned stores had increased by over 470% per year!

So, it's clear that the goal is possible to fulfill, and that doesn't solve the pollution problem at all. These companies' green initiatives are completely insubstantial and quite ironic.

They refer to a single green store to get the opinion of being an environmentally friendly corporation and hide the enormous pollution they generate. People shouldn't therefore be so sure whether making the world a better place is just as easy as eating a Subway sandwich, a Big Mac or a KFC's burger.


  2. Sweet treats

 Nowadays there are many companies that produce sweets which describe their products as climate-friendly.

Ben & Jerry's, for example, has always mixed progressive politics with ice-cream. The company teemed up with Greenpeace and WWF. However, in 2000 the company was bought by Unilever which made the brand look more ethical and sustainable. But, even if Unilever claims to have reduced the carbon footprint, numbers are still unknown to the public who suspects that emissions can not but rise.

Another company, called Bloomsberry, produces the "Climate Change Chocolate" which is said to come with carbon offsets equivalent to the average person's emissions in one day. Then there is the "Emergency Chocolate" for rapid relief of everything, from love sickness to anxiety; "Bochox" and "Snappy Chocolate" that cure wrinkles and PMS symptoms!

Nicole Banko


The Greenwash Effect by Guy Pearse

Author: Silvana Turcinovich Petercol
Last editor: Silvana Turcinovich Petercol



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