Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 281-294

Communicating Environmental Information: Are Marketing Claims on Packaging Misleading?

  • Michael Jay Polonsky
  • , Judith Bailey
  • , Helen Baker
  • , Christopher Basche
  • , Carl Jepson
  • , Lenore Neath

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The increased usage of questionable environmental marketing claims has become an issue of concern for academics, policy makers and consumers. Much of the research to date, has focused on the accuracy of environmental claims in advertisements, with the information on product packaging being largely ignored. This study uses a content analysis to examine the environmental information on packaging. More specifically it examines the packaging of the population of dishwashing liquid bottles available in grocery stores in a large city in Australia. Evaluation criteria are developed to classify the various types of information and the degree to which the information is "misleading". Seven different informational categories and four accuracy categories are developed. These criteria are developed based on the existing environmental advertising literature and environmental marketing regulations in the U.S. and Australia. It was found that a majority of the packaging information can be classified as being not accurate.