Marks & Spencer has retained its position as the UK’s
greenest business, according to a survey of UK opinion leaders
- while BP, Tesco and British Airways are considered the least
The FTSE 100 Green Washers and Green Winners Survey
- carried out by Chatsworth Communications - polled UK national
and trade journalists, sustainability experts and political
groups in a bid to measure how successful large corporations
are when it comes to environmental issues.
The study aimed to identify the major UK companies seen to
be leading the way on sustainability issues and those considered
to be duping consumers with unfulfilled claims.
M&S remained at the top of the list with a majority of
51 per cent of votes, helped by its ‘Plan A’ campaign,
which involves initiatives such as the imminent five pence
charge for carrier bags. A large share of respondents (40
per cent) believed the retailer had run the 'best-publicised
green campaign' in the last six months, although 10 per
cent thought it was guilty of 'greenwash'.
Nick Murray-Leslie, director of Chatsworth, said - “Marks
& Spencer continues to be seen as a leader on green issues
and remains our top green winner. This reflects their high
profile Plan A campaign, which has been praised for setting
out very clear and achievable targets, rather than attempting
to boost green credentials through publicity stunts that gain
maximum coverage but have little substance.”
Another strong performer in the poll was new entrant - BSkyB
- voted second with nine per cent of votes, followed by HSBC
with seven per cent and another new entrant BT Group
with six per cent.
Half of the people surveyed believe that the current level
of media coverage is contributing to 'green fatigue'
among the general public.
Global oil company BP was identified as the worst
offender for making false claims, with 38 per cent of voters
perceiving them as 'green washers' - followed by Tesco
(21 per cent) and British Airways (10 per cent).
Elsewhere, Conservative leader David Cameron beat Prime Minister
Gordon Brown as the greenest political leader, with 41 per
cent of votes, compared to 28 per cent for Brown.
Murray-Leslie added - “Unfortunately, Gordon Brown is not
perceived to be fulfilling his green commitments and so, it
is left to UK business and, indeed, the individual to lead
The findings come after the Society of British Advertisers
(ISBA) announced last month that some of the UK’s biggest
advertisers were forming a new group to look further at the
issues surrounding green marketing (Click
The formation of the group - which includes COI, British
Gas and Unilever - follows an increase in the number of environmental
advertising claims and complaints surrounding them.
The results, overall, reveal increasing cynicism as to whether
UK business is leading on environmental issues out of a genuine
desire to protect the environment, or if this is just greenwash
aimed at creating an eco-friendly corporate image -
- The main motivation for UK companies to adopt green policies
is to protect their reputation (27%) followed by consumer
pressure (20%) and good business sense (18%)
- Only 1% believe genuine concern for the environment is
the key driver for UK companies to adopt green policies
- Marks & Spencer (45%) and HSBC voted the top green winners
– the companies making the most genuine green effort
- BP, Tesco and British Airways considered to be most guilty
of ‘greenwash’ by respondents
- BP, Tesco and Marks & Spencer have the highest profile
and most effective green publicity campaigns in terms of
- Majority of respondents (75%) believe it is better for
big business to 'own-up' where they are not green
and show a willingness to make the necessary changes.