Jools Walker: Welcome to Adventures in Coffee, a podcast by Caffeine Magazine about the fascinating but occasionally confounding universe of coffee, brought to you by Siemens Home Appliances and Ikawa Home.
Scott Walker: Yes, we tell you surprising coffee stories to open your taste buds and mind, hopefully to inspire you to have coffee adventures in your kitchen.
Jools Walker: I’m Jools Walker, I’m a best-selling cycling author, a digital content creator from East London and your very everyday coffee lover.
Scott Walker: And I’m Scott Bentley. I am the founder of Caffeine Magazine, art director and all round coffee dork.
Jools Walker: Now, today we are biting into a very, very juicy topic indeed. And that is “Greenwashing.”
Scott Walker: Yes, this, dear listener, is when companies or brands either try to mislead, trick or fool you, the poor customer, into thinking they're much greener than they actually are.
Jools Walker: This is a rather complicated issue. I mean, for starters, what is, and what isn't greenwashing?
Scott Walker: Is this really a problem at all? I mean, who's really getting hurt in all of this?
Jools Walker: Now, we are going to be giving you, dear listener, the answers, plus a whole bunch of examples for you to chow down on.
Scott Walker: Next time you walk into a cafe with blackboards talking about their tree planting program or coffee bags with the words “carbon neutral” on it, or you see a coffee advert splashed on the side of a red London bus with an image of forests and birds, you’re going to have the tools to decide for yourself whether or not this is greenwashing, and what to do about it.
Jools Walker: But Scott, let's be honest here, you are no expert on this and neither am I. Which is why we are bringing on a very special co-host, and that's environmental journalist David Burrows to help walk us through it all.
Scott Walker: Oh, Jools, not again. You're bothering clever people, aren't you!
Jools Walker: It’s my favorite thing to do.
Scott Walker: You’re bothering clever people! But this is good. No, we do need to hear from people like David, and I can't wait to get stuck into this. But just before we do, let's have a quick word from our sponsors.
Jools Walker: So, Scott, can I, your humble everyday coffee lover Jools, roast coffee like an expert on the Ikawa Home.
Scott Bentley: That is the question, Jools.
Jools Walker: So the other day, Scott, I roast up a coffee from the Ndunzu Kateshi Estate in Zambia on the Ikawa Home
Now I played with a few roast recipes on the Ikawa app and decided I actually preferred the medium-light roast recipe over the medium roast.
And then, you know, I popped it in a little bag and shipped it to North Yorkshire to this lovely barista.
Elliot Day: So, I'm Elliot day. I'm a barista at Bean and Bud in Harrogate. I’ve been working in coffee for eight to nine years, I think, now.
Jools Walker: And his cafe has a claim to fame.
Elliot Day: So Bean and Bud was the first specialty coffee shop in Harrogate.
Scott Bentley: I know the guys from Bean and Bud — that's an amazing coffee shop.
Jools Walker: And the thing is, right, Elliot and his fellow baristas had all tasted the coffee I'd sent them earlier in the day, and I was really impressed with their paletes.
Elliot Day: I would’ve said that it’s a washed process. It's got quite a high acidity.
Scott Bentley: Yep, he’s got that bang on.
Jools Walker: Oh yeah. And get this Scott.
Elliot Day: We did think that it was an African coffee as well.
Jools Walker: Yeah.
Elliot Day: And we knew that Burundi and Rwanda were sort of coming into season,
Scott Bentley: Yeah. I mean, it's Zambia, but it's pretty damn close in terms of coffee, but do they actually like it, Jools?
Jools Walker: He did!
Elliot Day: That's lovely. It’s got a real bright fruitiness. It's very similar to what we'd use in the shop.
Jools Walker: Do you have any thoughts or ideas on who may have roasted it? Like, if it was a UK speciality roaster that may have done this?
Elliot Day: It could possibly be, yeah.
Jools Walker: Can I let you know that I'm the person that roasted the coffee and sent it to you.
Elliot Day: That's great!
Scott Bentley: Looks like you nailed it again.
Jools Walker: Well, I would say at this point, Scott, I kind of feel like I've earned myself a bit of a spa retreat in Harrogate. But anyway, we have linked Bean and Bud and Elliot's Instagram handle in the show notes.
Scott Bentley: So, dear listener, roast coffee your way with the Ikawa Home.
Jools Walker: To start us off on this greenwashing exploration, let's bring on David. Hi, David.
Scott Walker: Hey David.
David Burrows: Hi there, Jools. Hi there, Scott.
Jools Walker: David, for the benefit of our dear listeners, can you tell us a bit about yourself and the work that you do.
David Burrows: So, I'm an environment journalist. So I write about all things environment. So that could be packaging, that could be pollution, that could be climate change. Whether I do so in a clever way, as Scott just suggested, is debatable.
Scott Walker: You are definitely the cleverest person in the room. However, are you the most entertaining? Can you crack jokes left right and center? That is the thing that we will find out.
David Burrows: Sorry, sorry, guys. Bear with me two seconds. Audrey, just come in. Yes, I'm just doing my podcast, my love, I’ll be down in a minute.
Jools Walker: Ahhh.
David Burrows: Sorry? Yes, you can have a biscuit, yes. See you later.
Scott Walker: That's so sweet. It's so lovely. Can I have a biscuit as well, David? I'm here with nothing.
David Burrows: I might need one after this.
Amazing. So, Jools and Scott, I'd like to start with a little test that some cleverer people than me in Sweden did. They looked at the power of labeling coffees as environmentally friendly. What they did is they had two coffees, one labeled environmentally friendly, the other one just labeled as just standard coffee, really. What they did is they asked those 35 people which one they preferred. Now, more people preferred the environmentally friendly one. The thing was, they were both identical coffees.
Jools Walker: Oh,
David Burrows: In the second part of the study, half the participants were told they had preferred the non eco-friendly version. And those that had placed sort of a high value on sustainability, wanted to make sustainable choices, they said they'd still pay more for the environmentally friendly one. So even though they liked the one that wasn’t environmentally friendly more, they'd still choose the environmentally friendly one, or the one that was labeled as environmentally friendly, and pay more for it.
Scott Walker: So they were saying that they would pay more for worse tasting coffee, because it was environmentally friendly.
David Burrows: They were more than happy to. And as I say, it's a very small sample. But there are a lot of studies that have shown similar results.
Scott Walker: Look, David, how serious of a problem is greenwashing, really? I mean, I make no bones about the fact that I've been in advertising and marketing now for 20 years. I'm not quite Mad Men old, but you know. It's always been about, not lying, but extending the truth.
David Burrows: First of all, it’s hurting our wallets, because often we're paying a premium for some of these products that are labeled as green, environmentally friendly, nature-positive — all those other words are being used as cues.
So we are paying a premium for something that might not actually be more sustainable — that's the first point. The second one is, it confuses us — all the ambiguity, some of those terms I just mentioned, “environmentally friendly,” “green” — that confuses us. And then, if there's more and more greenwashing, then it also creates climate apathy. So we begin to think, “Well, all claims are greenwash, so it doesn't matter what we buy.” That's the last thing we want.
Jools Walker: That it can sway people in the direction of not caring is quite worrying. Like, “It doesn't matter what I end up doing, it's making no difference, so I’m just going to carry on regardless.” That’s quite worrying.
Scott Walker: Yeah, that's a real killer thing, yeah.
Jools Walker: All right, David, we hear you on this one. You know, that consumers are swayed when something is labeled as green, that there should be huge commercial benefits to it. But what technically is greenwashing? How do you actually define it?
David Burrows: Shall we start with the Cambridge dictionary definition? And that offers an example of greenwashing, which is: “When businesses use terms such as ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘green,’ they are often meaningless.”
Jools Walker: So, if a company is using the term “environmentally friendly” and “green,” that's greenwashing — that's it, that's the end of the story?
David Burrows: Kind of. If only it was that simple, Jools. And this is where it gets really, really tricky, because greenwashing could be so much more than that.
Scott Bentley: OK, David, could you give us some examples then of maybe, like, how and where we may see this?
David Burrows: You know, what I'm going to do Scott, rather than tell you about this I'm going to show you. The other day, I walked out of my house, went into town and recorded a few voice memos.
It's a beautiful, crisp blue-skied morning in Edinburgh, where I've come for my own Adventure in Coffee — greenwashing. So, I'm going to visit some shops, I'm going to drink some coffee, maybe some decaf as well, and look at some of the environmental cues they're giving us, and if I can spot some greenwash. Let's see what we find.
Jools Walker: I'm loving the fact that decaf has made it into your coffee drinking as well, David.
David Burrows: Well, I went to five or six shops, Jools. So after three…
Jools Walker: Keep that balance…
David Burrows: Yeah! So this is what I found when I went into a popular sandwich chain.
David Burrows in cafe: There are lots of cues, lots of environmental cues relating to “organic,” relating to “ethical,” “sustainable coffee.” Especially on huge boards just behind the baristas and just by the entrance. So as soon as you went in, you were hit by these messages that told you all all about the coffee and its sourcing. But I wonder, and it's a question for you, Jools and Scott, would you see that as greenwashing?
Jools Walker: Maybe on the surface, especially thinking about, you know, the definition that we just had of what greenwashing is, as well. But wouldn't we need to dig a bit deeper to find out? Because playing devil's advocate here, we could be being a bit unfair on said coffee chain / sandwich shop, because they might be telling the truth.
Scott Walker: Yeah, I think without actually seeing it for myself, I would definitely err on the side of caution. But at the moment, unless they're making specific claims, I’d say no, at the moment.
David Burrows: Hold those thoughts for a minute, and I'm going to give you another example.
David Burrows in cafe: There's a lot of imagery, a lot of natural pictures to do with nature. One I just went into has a whole wall dedicated to the three coffee growing regions of the world with pictures of Sumatran tigers and elephants and volcanoes — it's all very nicely done.
David Burrows: So, Jools and Scott, what do you think of that? Lots of images being thrown at me as I went into this store. Is that greenwashing?
Jools Walker: What are the images telling me, other than maybe they really like coffee regions and they like tigers?
Scott Walker: Yeah, David, it sounds like the way you are suggesting, these images that you're describing, that we should think, “Oh yeah, of course this is greenwashing,” but I don't know! I'm confused. I think our dear listeners are probably confused as well.
David Burrows: So, greenwashing isn't straightforward at all. And that dictionary definition we looked at earlier doesn't really help us that much in identifying what is and what isn't greenwashing. And to better understand what is and what isn't greenwashing, there's a lot of onus on us to investigate these claims, and we’re just consumers, right? We haven't got the time to paw over all the environmental practices of these companies and all the data. But there are people who do have the time and the inclination and the power to do just that. And I had a conversation with one of them.
Jools Walker: Oh, OK, this sounds intriguing.
Miles Lockwood: I'm Miles Lockwood, and I'm the director of complaints and investigations at the Advertising Standards Authority. So it's making sure that all the 40,000 or so complaints that we deal with are dealt with really well.
David Burrows: You mentioned that you get 40,000 complaints. Is that 40,000 complaints a year there, Miles?
Miles Lockwood: That is a year, yes.
Jools Walker: Forty thousand complaints! This man's busy.
Scott Walker: I thought I had a lot of unopened things in my inbox. I think he's probably got more than me.
David Burrows: That's not just greenwashing, mind you. That's 40,000 complaints about adverts. So, for Miles at the Advertising Standards Authority, this is what you have to do or prove in order for an environmental claim not to be greenwashing?
Miles Lockwood: So, if you make a marketing message, you better have the evidence. You better be clear. You better be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
David Burrows: And on the website, they spell it out even more clearly. They say: “Any claims must be truthful and accurate, comparisons must be fair and meaningful, not hiding information and substantiating claims.”
Scott Walker: So, it's almost like, by default, if your advertising uses environmental claims it’s instantly greenwashing unless there are certain things here which have not been ticked, or something like that.
David Burrows: Exactly, Scott.
Jools Walker: OK, so we should apply this criteria to every single piece of potential greenwashing that we end up seeing, regardless of whether it's advertising or not?
David Burrows: In theory, yes.
So, Scott and Jools, what I want to do next is bring you three specific examples of greenwashing that crop up a fair bit in the coffee industry.
Jools Walker: This sounds great. And I cannot wait to hear these. But, before we get there, let's have a quick word from our sponsors.
Scott Walker: It's time to take a coffee trip with our friends, Siemens Home Appliances.
Jools Walker: Alright then Scott, where are we flying off to today?
Scott Walker: Today, Jools, we're flying to John Faiber Castillo’s farm in the green green mountains of Calca in Colombia.
Jools Walker: Why are we going here? And what is special about this coffee?
Scott Walker: OK. So the situation is a lot of specialty coffee roasters only want to buy the very, very best crops. And they will often pay very good prices for those crops. The problem is that the farmer is often then left with some other cherries, which. you know, he can't sell at a decent price.
Jools Walker: Does that mean he's going to end up struggling to earn a profit on those? Is it OK to call them leftovers?
Scott Walker: Yeah, I mean, this is still really tasty coffee, but what's really interesting about this is that, our dear friends at Carvetii Coffee in the Lake District, they have committed to buying the entire harvest from John Faiber Castillo for the next five years.
Jools Walker: I've got to say it. They're not cherry picking the best beans.
Scott Walker: I like what you did there, Jools.
Jools Walker: So, let's give this a whirl on the Siemens EQ 700.
Scott Walker: So I'm going to get the app out and I'm going to tap on Home Connect. We're going to the coffee maker and I'm going to brew up a flat white, strong, with 140 mils of oat milk.
Jools Walker: Scott, why have we gone for a flat white with this coffee?
Scott Walker: This is a medium roast coffee. So I think with some oat milk with this is going to pair really nicely.
Jools Walker: OK. So it's quite creamy with the oat milk, I'm kind of getting notes of like dark chocolate.
Scott Walker: Yeah, I'm getting that too. And a rich fruitiness, like a cherry.
Jools Walker: Mm, is it out there to say it kind of tastes like a black forest gateau?
Scott Walker: Not at all. It does taste like a black forest gateau.
And that was a coffee trip brought to you by Siemens Home Appliances.
OK, David, let's cut to the chase. Give me some real world actionable greenwashing examples.
David Burrows: The first area we are going to look at is the packaging on your coffee. As you both know, recycling is a topic that I follow quite closely. What I’m going to show you is two bags of coffee and the information that relates to the recyclability of that packaging.
David Burrows: Here's the first bag. So down here in the bottom corner, there's a number four and the package says “fully recyclable.”
Scott Walker: And it's got the three sort of like arrows in a triangle. I don’t know what the number four means.
David Burrows: Well, there we go, is that a clue, Scott? Is that a clue?
Scott Walker: Here's the other one?
David Burrows: On the front of that one, it says “not yet recycled.” So you've got one that says “not yet recycled.” You've got one that says “fully recyclable.”
Scott Walker: Well, it's obvious, isn't it? It's fully recyclable. That's the best one.
Jools Walker: OK, maybe I'm thinking too hard on this one. Is it “not yet recycled” because they haven't recycled it and the onus is on us to put it in the recycling? That’s confusing. I would just go for the one that's fully recyclable, because you trust in that.
David Burrows: So, if those were both the same coffee, you'd choose the bag that says “fully recyclable.”
Scott Walker: Yeah.
Jools Walker: Yeah.
David Burrows: The “fully recyclable” one has nicely greenwashed you. Because what would you do with that pack? It says “fully recyclable.” Which bin would you put it in?
Scott Walker: I’d put it in the plastic bin, because it looks like plastic.
Jools Walker: I’d have to put it in the one bin that I've got, because I don't have more than one recycling bin at home that's been provided by my council — it says that you can put plastic inside my bin. So that's what I would do as well.
David Burrows: OK. It’s very unlikely that your council would be happy taking this kind of plastic. This kind of plastic is the kind of plastic that’s called soft plastic, flexible plastic. The only place to take that really at the moment is your supermarkets, where they have collection points. And the problem is that none of that information is available to you on the pack.
Scott Walker: I would've just put that straight in the recycling.
Jools Walker: Same.
David Burrows: Which would contaminate the recycling and arguably be worse than just putting it in your general waste bin alongside your other one that said “not yet recyclable.”
Scott Walker: So the difference here is not which one is better. It's actually which one just told you the absolute truth?
David Burrows: Exactly Scott. This one has been very transparent by saying “it's not yet recycled.” So just put it in your black bag with your general waste.
This one has “Oh, we're recyclable,” but it hasn't given me any information about where to put it. And this is what started when Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall got very angry about all those coffee cups that were “100 percent recyclable,” but none of which, or very few of which, were recycled — it’s just creating confusion. And it's the honesty that I wanted to pick up. The transparency. Better to say, “we don't know” or “we don't do this yet” than to give you ambiguity that looks greener.
Scott Walker: So, the best situation would actually be that fully recyclable package. But underneath that, it would say “recycle with your shopping bags” or “recycle with only other soft plastics” or something like that.
Jools Walker: Yeah, it begs the question. Why wouldn't a brand put that on their bag in the first place?
Scott Walker: Are they trying to hoodwink us? Or is it just a lack of their own understanding?
David Burrows: That is a very good point, Scott. Some of this is down not to intent, but ignorance. And that's a real problem, because this brand probably thinks it's doing the right thing by choosing this particular material, that is fully recyclable, but they're not giving us just that little bit of extra information in order for us to do the right thing with it and put it in the right bin or take it to the store.
And a little tip is, if you ever see that number four, with the loop round there: Number four, take it to the store.
Jools Walker: That’s easy to remember!
David Burrows: I can't actually claim that as mine, because it's in a book that I've got that my wife will often find me reading called “The Rubbish Book.”
Scott Walker: Brilliant.
Jools Walker: Alright then David, after blowing my mind with that one, take us to the next one, please.
David Burrows: So carbon neutral is the next area I want to cover.
Scott Walker: I know a couple of coffee roasters that I could name if I wanted to, because they are on the tip of my tongue, that have claimed that they are carbon neutral.
Jools Walker: But David, how can you claim to be carbon neutral if you're producing carbon?
David Burrows: So, you can fast track to being carbon neutral by buying what's called carbon offsets or carbon credits. And that could be things like planting trees. It can be protecting forests. It can be buying energy efficient stoves for developing countries. But now I want to give you an interesting statistic.
So, in 2017, the European Commission looked at a load of offsetting schemes right across the board and found that 85% of them weren't working or they were resulting in higher emissions.
Scott Walker: OK, can we talk about, how do you offset? So the idea of offsetting for me is like, OK, so say for instance I want to go on a fancy holiday to Dubai. OK. And I jump on an airplane and I fly to Dubai and I have a lovely, lovely time in a seven star hotel. By the way, this isn't my life. And then I jump back on an airplane and I come back to the UK. Now, all those air miles have put a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. So I try and do the right thing and I go and buy a thousand trees, which is going to offset — and I use big air quotes here that you can't see — my carbon by planting these trees. And then those trees gobble up all the carbon, that I emitted into the atmosphere from my plane journey. But I'm kind of feeling that it’s not as simple as that, is that right, David?
David Burrows: So, from the outside, Scott, your holiday to Dubai and buying all those trees, you can lie in the sun feeling very relaxed about things. But dig down a little deeper and as always with these things, as you’ve found with me, it's not quite as clear cut. And this area of tree planting in particular is riddled with greenwashing.
For example, Miles from the Advertising Standards Authority said…
Miles Lockwood: There are concerns from people who are saying that planting a tree tomorrow cannot offset the carbon you produce tomorrow. Because it's going to take too long for that tree to grow to a size where it can actually soak up the carbon that you’ve produced today.
David Burrows: And will that tree be there tomorrow?
Miles Lockwood: Will it still be there — that’s right I mean, so, you know, people are saying they're buying up forests or investing in this scheme that plants forests in the Amazon, but will that forest still be there in 20 years’ time? Exactly.
Jools Walker: Mm, I can see how the problem is that the companies who are buying all of the green credentials by planting the trees are probably hiding the fact that they're not actively working to decarbonize their operations.
I mean, wouldn't we rather that they did the work to not put out as much carbon or produce as much carbon in the first place, rather than plant trees to soak up the unnecessary carbon that they shouldn’t be emitting in the first place?
David Burrows: It’s a great point, Jools, and it's exactly why we need to be more careful when we are confronted with claims like “carbon neutral.” And the problem is that reducing carbon is nowhere near as sexy as planting trees at the moment.
Scott Walker: How long does a tree need to be growing for to suck up the carbon that you've offset it against, on average?
David Burrows: The problem it, it’s not instant, it takes time. We don't know whether those trees are going to be there in 5, 10, 15 years’ time. I mean, there was one big scheme in Turkey where they planted a record number of trees, and I think it was within a year, most of them died. Because they planted the wrong trees.
Scott Walker: OK. David, I don't want to come across here as though I'm getting depressed about this whole thing, but we shouldn't obviously be giving too much credence to people who say they're planting trees to offset their carbon. So what should we be looking for?
David Burrows: More information really, Scott. If we're interested in what these companies are doing, they should be able to provide us with more information. So if they are claiming to be carbon neutral, we want to know what they're doing to reduce their carbon, and then what's left. What offsets are they doing? Is it accredited? Are they keeping track of it? And then, and this is really critical, what are they doing going forward, to reduce their emissions even further, so that they shrink the amount of the emissions that they're having to offset?
Jools Walker: Alright then, David. So we've had two greenwashing examples. Can you now give us a third one.
David Burrows: So, Jools, I want to touch quickly on two cases involving alternative milk that Miles and his team at the Advertising Standards Authority looked into, and which threw up some really interesting rulings. So the first relates to Alpro and some big ads that they put on the sides of London buses a few years ago. And on the back of those adverts, members of the public wrote into the ASA flagging what they thought was greenwash. And so Miles and his team looked into it.
Miles Lockwood: The Alpro ruling was a classic one, because it was an area where companies again and again are getting it wrong. We have a rule which states that the basis of environmental claims must be made clear. And with Alpro what you had was ads about oat and almond milk splashed on the sides of London buses and the ad was quite simple, it said: Good for you, good for the planet.
And so the problem with that was, was it good because Alpro’s almonds weren’t sourced from California, where aquifers are being degraded through overuse of water? Was Alpro good for you, good for the planet because their plastic bottles were recyclable? Was it good for you, good for the planet because they had a lower carbon footprint? The ad didn’t make it clear. So because of that, we banned that ad. You've got to make the basis of your environmental claims clear. It's not good enough just to go out there and say, “We're good for the planet.” You've got to explain why, because otherwise you're not giving a consumer any opportunity to make an informed decision about whether they should buy that product or service.
Jools Walker: That's incredible, because it's the thought that there’s an advertising agency that came up with what sounds like the perfect tagline to stick on the side of a bus that seems very clear, and then there’s so many layers of: Proove it! Proove to the public why this is the truth. And if you can’t, it’s a slap on the wrist and you get banned.
Scott Bentley: So David, that's the Alpro case that you've explained. You mentioned that there was a second alternative milk greenwashing issue that the Advertising Standards Authority looked into.
David Burrows: It's Oatly, and it's a very different case. Whereas with Alpro, we were looking at a big, bold claim that had very little to back it up, Oatly made quite a few claims and they had an awful lot of information that they used to try and back up those claims. I'll let Miles explain what happened.
Miles Lockwood: These were TV ads, paid-for Facebook posts and some other social media, which were obviously for this company called Oatly. And there were lots of claims in this ad. In broad terms, it was about a comparison between their oat milks and dairy milk. And it was obviously making claims that Oatly’s milk was superior because it had a lower carbon footprint, it had a lower overall environmental footprint. And it's a bit of a textbook example of how businesses get this wrong, because you can see in a sense why Oatly is doing good, and we don't want to be an enemy of the good at the ASA, but Oatly we're saying things like, “73% less CO2 versus milk.” Well, that sounds good. But what they were actually comparing there was not all of their products against all milk products, they were comparing one specific brand — one Oatly brand — against whole dairy milk. So the underlying evidence didn't match up to the claim. And this is just a classic example of where a company over claims, where a company is not precise enough. And just because your product is probably better for the environment, probably overall produces less carbon, it doesn't let you off the hook for being accurate and being precise.
And another good example in that case was that they made various claims around, I think it was a positive carbon reduction claim, and they used experts there. It was a claim which sort of suggested that experts agree. You know, that there's a consensus that by moving to a plant-based diet, you're going to have a better impact on the environment. But actually, what was happening there was that they had one expert who had made a claim and said it was “probably” better, rather than that it was. And now you can see again, you know, the problem here was that Oatly took a piece of evidence and they extrapolated it into a generality that they couldn't support.
So, once we dig into these sorts of issues, as you can see, what we're doing is we're asking questions to make sure that businesses have got the evidence to back up claims. And we are holding them to a very high standard, because the ASA’s rulings and the ASA's rules require precision and accuracy and completeness when it comes to environmental claims.
Jools Walker: So, the comparison that Oatly were doing, it wasn't like-for-like, so it wasn't milk-for-milk.
David Burrows: Yeah, and this is the trap that a lot of companies are falling into, Jools, is their comparisons. And this is something that listeners need to watch out for, comparisons between one product and another. They've got to be very specific on this, and that's what Oatly wasn't doing. They were choosing one of their lines, in this case the Barista, and comparing it against all dairy milk. And yet the advert suggests that it was Oatly overall that was greener or lower emission, in this case, than all dairy milk. And that is the case, you know, Oatly has lower emissions than dairy milk — very few people are going to argue that. But you can hear Miles there, he was explaining that they did provide a lot of information. They were trying to do the right thing, but still it was greenwashing.
Scott Walker: So, essentially what you're saying is, if you are stepping into this space and making a green claim, it better be, like, triple checked. You need to have done your homework and done it to the very, very highest of standards if you are going to try and trade on that.
David Burrows: Exactly.
Jools Walker: Alright, David, this has all been great, but now I want to have some takeaways as a listener. Do you know what I mean?
David Burrows: Now, one way you could look at this is to take the ASA approach. And if we go back to the beginning of the episode, you remember their approach is to say that something is automatically greenwashing unless you can provide an awful lot of detailed information to substantiate your claims.
Miles Lockwood: The bigger the claim, be more skeptical of it. If a company is making a really bold, absolute claim that just sounds too good to be true, take a careful look at what’s going on under the bonnet, if you can. If you are concerned about it, complain to the ASA, we’ll have a look at it for you. And just use your common sense as well.
David Burrows: So that's one approach. The other one is to look at honesty. No one has really got all this sorted. So look for the companies that are telling you that they haven't got things sorted and there are still things they're working on. I think that would be my big takeaway.
Scott Bentley: Amazing. David, it was an absolute pleasure having you on the show, once again. I hope it's not another year before you come back.
Jools Walker: If our dear listener wanted to find you, where are the best places for them to look for you online?
David Burrows: Probably on LinkedIn and you can read my pieces on Food Service Footprint and various other online titles.
Jools Walker: That's fantastic, David. And we will put a link to that in the show notes.
OK then, I think it's time for those credits.
Now, please do consider supporting this show on Patreon. It's a platform where you can support the creators you love. It helps keep our lights on because about 100 hours of work goes into every episode that we make.
Scott Bentley: And don't forget, dear listener, that if you support us on Patreon, you're in with the opportunity of picking up one of three free Made by Knock grinders. These grinders are worth over £100 each, and we've got three of them to give away. Listen to our previous episode with Lance Hendrick as to why these are such great grinders.
Jools Walker: Also, hop on Instagram and tell your friends about the show. Create an Instagram story from a screen grab and tag us — me, Jools, @ladyvelo; Scott, @caffeinemagazine; and James, @filterstoriespodcast — and we will repost it.
Scott Bentley: And, dear listener, if you think you've seen some greenwashing out there on the internet, why don't you take a screen grab of that, tag us in, maybe hashtag #IsItGreenwashing?
Jools Walker: Now, this episode of the podcast was co-produced by David Burrows and James Harper, the creator of the coffee podcast, Filter Stories.
Scott Bentley: James also writes and plays the piano music, and the editing was done by Amedeo Berta.
Jools Walker: Now, Scott, what are we going to be exploring in our next episode of Adventures in Coffee?
Scott Bentley: Well, producer man James has been torturing us, dear listener. He's literally not let us drink coffee for 24 hours.
Jools Walker: Ah, then the reason why is because he is taking us on a journey to see what caffeine does to our bodies and brains once it hits our lips.
Scott Bentley: But until then, dear listener, look out for honesty and be wary of big claims, and we'll see you very soon.