How can truck fleets can avoid the mistake of greenwashing?

More and more companies are being exposed as being guilty of greenwashing. In fact, a report issued in 2009 by TerraChoice, a North American environmental marketing agency, assessed more than 2000 products and found that 98 percent were guilty of greenwashing. The damage to a company’s reputation if exposed as a greenwasher could be extremely costly, both in dollars and customer loyalty.

So what exactly is greenwashing, how does it affect trucking companies and why should they care? Greenwashing has been an unfortunate by-product of the push towards environmental sustainability. With dire predictions on the fate of the planet and the short time left to turn things around it all of a sudden became a priority for a lot of concerned citizens. Consumers exercised their collective muscle to vote with their wallets by choosing “green” products and very quickly being environmentally-conscious was the popular choice.

How did greenwashing get started?

It wasn’t long before some in corporate circles, with sales in mind, blurred ethics and a shortcut mentality, saw an easier way: “Let’s just say our products are green, throw in some pretty pictures of green leaves, a smiling globe and dancing squirrels, and no one will question whether our products are actually green!” The sad thing is the plan actually worked, and is still working.

However consumers are beginning to wise up and greenwashers are being exposed. This is a good thing because greenwashing is not just harmless marketing; it’s actually fooling customers into believing they are doing something for the environment when they’re not, thus preventing them from actually taking some real, positive action.

Fleets haven’t been immune to the effects of greenwashing. When I raised this subject on Linkedin on the NAFA group it got some interesting responses. Chris Burgeson, CAFM related one of the biggest greenwashing incidents “when fleets were reporting the number of flex-fuel vehicles they had purchased as part of their effort to green-up. The question that wasn’t being asked was, ‘How many of these vehicles are even using M85 or E85?’ In fact, the more important question that was never asked was: ‘Do any of these vehicles even have access to M or E85?’ Often times the answer was no.”

So with greenwashing hopefully soon to be on the endangered species list and customers getting smarter about their purchasing decisions, how can your business fleet make sure that you’re stepping up as a genuinely green fleet?

Truck fleets are using GPS to avoid greenwashing

Greenwashing is good news for corporate truck fleets because it is starting to weed out the fakes and leave behind those businesses that are genuinely making environmentally-friendly changes.

Telogis are helping some of the biggest fleets in the world like AT&T go green. Using intelligent GPS tracking and reporting software, fleet owners are actively managing and minimizing fuel use and unnecessary miles.

Patty Calkins, VP of Environment, Health and Safety at Xerox, gave some recommendations to help companies avoid the sin of greenwashing that are ideal for fleets using GPS tracking:

  • A sound strategy that coincides with important environmental priorities
  • A disciplined methodology for assessing problems and evaluating opportunities
  • Clearly defined metrics for measuring the environmental and economic impact of projects and improvements
  • A long-term commitment to sustainability success

These suggestions fit perfectly with GPS fleet tracking since it is both sustainable (green initiatives actually save a fleet money) and measurable (GHG output can be easily viewed or reported on).