CathyHird 21Dec22

Delivering more for the greener good is an attractive advertising slogan.

The graphics in the commercial are pretty cool too as we can see through the moving boxes as if they have no impact on the environment. In the ad, Canada Post claims that their package delivery is now carbon neutral.

I got curious. Their website explains that half their 14,000 delivery trucks will be electric by 2030 and the rest by 2040.

They are also experimenting with new technology for the last-mile delivery vehicles, for those who put mail in my mailbox.

However, they can only make the claim that they are carbon neutral now because they are buying carbon offsets. That means their delivery system still has an impact – those see-through boxes in the commercials are misleading – but they are compensating for that impact.

This claim to be green is a common theme in recent commercials.

Fedex is also delivering for the greener good though their issues are complex. They have converted over 6,000 vehicles to electric or alternative fuels and avoided over a million tons of CO2 emissions, though over what time frame is not clear on their website. Their more difficult issue is how many aircraft hours they use. They are investing in research to lower airplane emissions but give no sense of when that will have an effect.

Fedex is aware of their packaging. All packaging is 100% recyclable and 35% recycled material. The paper they buy comes from certified sustainable forests. They are also retrofitting buildings to use less energy.

There is a common problem with both these companies: electric vehicles have to be charged. While the vehicles are not themselves adding CO2 to the atmosphere, if the electrity is produced by coal or natural-gas, their travel is still contributing to emissions. At least, both companies are using e-trikes for inner city deliveries, powered by humans.

Although Fedex is using less plastic, they use paper. And this is an issue shared by two other companies who are airing green commercials these days.

The Tiger Towel commercial claims that the paper towel is carbon neutral. The company that makes it, Royale, has hired Carbon Trust to ensure that all their products are carbon neutral.

This company takes a cradle-to-grave approach that takes into consideration all the carbon involved from inputs to manufacturing to distribution and recycling. They emit lots of carbon, but the forests they work with absorb the same amount of CO2. And they have planted over a billion trees, though they took 66 years to do that.

The Bonterra brand has shifted to paper packaging for their toilet paper. When working on eliminating plastic, I started to buy their brand, though others are making the same change now. And their tissue boxes have a paper window – this I have to look for. Their paper products are made from 100% recycled paper – good to know where some of the paper I recycle goes – and they use a water based ink. They acknowledge that the manufacturing process produces carbon so they, like Canada Post, use carbon offsets.

Bonterra contributes to an organization that removes plastic from the ocean (they contribute to the removal of 10,000 pounds per year) and to a group that plants trees (they contribute to the planting of 30,000 trees per year).

However, Bonterra is just one brand of paper products produced by the Kruger company. Last I checked, their other bathroom tissue is wrapped in plastic, and their facial tissue has a plastic window. The dramatic changes with Bonterra have not made their way into the rest of the company.

Industrial reflection

My question is, are these companies delivering the greener good or are they green-washing? I think it is a bit of both. Only one company takes a cradle to grave approach.

What about the emissions created in the production of those electric vehicles? I already mentioned that we need to take into account how the electriicty is produced.

Only one brand of paper products uses totally recycled paper. The rest are cutting down trees.

Even in a responsibly-managed forest, there are issues such as the lack of biodiversity and questions of sustainability as climate change brings more frequent severe storms.

And a young tree does not absorb the carbon that the mature tree they are replacing did.

Still, these companies recognize the need to engage in climate actions.

And maybe these green commercials on prime time TV will encourage the rest of us to live greener.



Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.






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