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Study dispels myth environmental management systems used to falsely boost green credentials

5 December 2013

Researchers have found that companies that adopt environmental management systems (designed to help reduce businesses’ environmental impacts) generally have greater sustainability, and that such systems are not used for corporate "greenwashing" - whereby companies claim to be environmentally friendly but invest little in actually achieving sustainability - as critics contend. The investigation focused on the use of ISO 14000 in Europe and North America.

Data was collected from standardised surveys sent to 231 companies in North America and 370 companies in Europe between 2006 and 2009. The survey asked companies about their implementation of ISO 14000, and their investment in pollution reduction, recycling and waste reduction measures. This investment information was then used to determine the company's true commitment to sustainability.

The results showed that the greater the implementation of ISO 14000, the greater the investment in environmental supply chain management. Although the evidence does not suggest that environmental management systems are never used for greenwashing, it supports the notion that companies that adopt them generally back this up with sincere investment in environmentally friendly practices.

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