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Published on April 19th, 2021

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Earth Day 2021: Companies Accused of Greenwashing

A growing number of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for products with a sustainability message. But when ads make something sounds better for the environment than it actually is, that is called greenwashing.

Here’s a roundup of companies and their products consumers should be mindful of this Earth Day 2021 that have been accused of not being as environmentally friendly as advertised (Note: NAD is the National Advertising Division and ASA is the Advertising Standards Authority):

Product/Company (Date and Type of Inquiry) Allegation(s) Outcome
Hefty Recycling Bags

(May 2021 class-action lawsuit)

Claiming on product packaging that bags are designed to handle all types of recyclables when products actually contaminate would-be recyclable waste Pending
Blueland cleaning products

(Oct. 2020 NAD inquiry)

Marketing “[e]very piece of packaging” as 100% recyclable when certain materials are compostable, not recyclable Company discontinued its 100% recyclable claim, as recommended by NAD
Quorn Foods

(Sept. 2020 ASA inquiry)

Misrepresenting a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint ASA told Quorn to make the basis of any environmental claims clear to consumers
Tide purclean

(Aug. 2020 NAD inquiry)

Representing that the laundry detergent is 100% plant-based when the product is only 75% plant-based Company agreed to modify plant-based claims appearing on product label, per NAD’s recommendation
Simple Green cleaning products

(May 2020 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing products as non-toxic when they contain ingredients harmful to people, pets and the environment Dismissed pursuant to settlement agreement in related case
Krud Kutter cleaning products

(May 2020 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing products as non-toxic and earth friendly when they contain ingredients harmful to people, pets and the environment Pending
Method household cleaning products

(May 2020 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing products as non-toxic when they contain ingredients harmful to people, pets and the environment Voluntarily dismissed without prejudice
Windex Vinegar

(May 2020 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing product as non-toxic when window cleaner contains potentially harmful and toxic ingredients Pending
Windex

(May 2020 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing products as non-toxic when they contain ingredients harmful to people, pets and the environment Pending
GreenPan cookware

(Sept. 2019 class-action lawsuit)

Claiming cookware is good for the environment when it is made of metal that does not biodegrade Settled
Nestlé chocolate

(April 2019 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing chocolate as sustainably sourced when company’s cocoa supply chain in West Africa has “virtually no environmental standards in place” Dismissed without prejudice
BMW X5 and 355d

(March 2018 class-action lawsuit)

Using emissions-cheating software (so-called defeat devices) to deceptively advertise diesel vehicles as clean and environmentally friendly Pending
Ford F-250 and F-350

(Early 2018 class-action lawsuits)

Using emissions-cheating software (so-called defeat devices) to deceptively advertise diesel vehicles as clean and environmentally friendly Pending
Kauai coffee pods

(May 2017 NAD inquiry)

Advertising coffee pods as 100% compostable while noting in the fine print that they’ve only been certified to decompose at “industrial facilities” Company agreed to prominently disclose that coffee pods are not certified for backyard composting, per NAD’s recommendation
Chevrolet Cruze

(July 2016 class-action lawsuit)

Using emissions-cheating software (so-called defeat devices) to deceptively advertise diesel vehicle as clean and environmentally friendly Pending
LEI Eco Alkaline batteries

(March 2016 NAD inquiry)

Claiming batteries are carbon neutral without providing information on when emissions reductions occurred or will occur Referred to FTC
Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC

(Early 2016 class-action lawsuits)

Using emissions-cheating software (so-called defeat devices) to deceptively advertise diesel vehicles as clean and environmentally friendly Settled
Natural American Spirit cigarettes

(2016 class-action lawsuits)

Marketing tobacco as earth friendly in connection with false claims that cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes Pending
Volkswagen and Audi

(Late 2015/2016 class-action lawsuits)

Using emissions-cheating software (so-called defeat devices) to deceptively advertise diesel vehicles as clean and environmentally friendly Pending (some claims settled)
Charmin Freshmates

(April 2015 class-action lawsuit)

Marketing moist towelettes as flushable when the wipes are not suitable for flushing down a toilet Settled
Rainforest Alliance

(April 2015 private lawsuit)

Misrepresenting how earth friendly the products it certifies (such as Chiquita bananas) really are Settled
SeaWorld

(Early 2015 class-action lawsuits)

Representing that it creates a fun, interesting and stimulating environment for its killer whales when the captive animals lead “unhealthy and despairing lives” Dismissed
Nature’s Own Green Label paper plates

(Oct. 2013 FTC complaint)

Marketing products as biodegradable, compostable and recyclable without competent and reliable scientific evidence in violation of an FTC consent order Settled
Nest thermostats

(June 2013 NAD inquiry)

Claiming other programmable thermostats waste energy (and thus are less eco-friendly) without sufficient evidence Nest agreed to discontinue the claim, among others, as recommended by NAD

Find more of our coverage on greenwashing here.

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