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How to communicate sustainability

- how to avoid greenwashing & other risks!

Your products are made from bioplastics now – great, but how do you communicate this switch to your target group? In this article, we explain how to communicate sustainability authentically.

The basics: sustainability marketing

BIOVOX Megaphon

From lifestyle products to pharmaceutical packaging – sustainability plays a major role in today’s world. The term has many associations and, above all, emotions: while some recognise “ecofriendly” as the one true lifestyle, others associate danger with the climate crisis or reject the issue out of a strong reluctance to change. How to communicate such a complex issue?

Up front: with correct, transparent information and authenticity!

Deepdive: how to communicate sustainability in the B2B world

Caution: Greenwashing!

It is not a secret, that there are many companies on the market with a purely economic interest. Of course, these companies have not missed the fact, that a large target group with purchasing power is now in demand for sustainable products and services. By the way, this also increasingly includes clinics and research facilities.

The hunger for profit sometimes leads to writing "sustainable" on something that is not sustainable.. Also, small aspects of sustainability are often presented larger than they really are. For example, when a paper packaging is advertised as “recyclable”, even though this has been standard for a long time. This works well until someone of the well-informed target group draws attention to it and the shitstorm on social media takes off. This danger lurks not only lifestyle products, but also medical devices, laboratory materials and all other B2B areas.

The problem: This situation rubs off on others, including you worst case. Your customers have become suspicious, even if your new laboratory equipment is indeed environmentally friendly. In order to counteract a “Yes, but is this really sustainable”..., without a further do let's talk about the first Holy Grail in sustainability marketing: Information.


Tip #1: Advertise with informative content

To do a good sustainability marketing, it is essential to reach the target group with the appropriate amount of information. Instead of a simple “Our product is now made of bioplastics and therefore super sustainable”, you can offer your target group a cascaded information offer: How much CO2 do you save? Why is it important to save CO2? Why does switching to bioplastics ensure a better future? What exactly is bioplastic? Gradually prepare this content in an info format for your target audience. For example, in the form of infographics, animated videos, interviews or slider postings. Pick up your target group at their information booth (we remember the emotions) and do not run the risk of a greenwashing shitstorm.

In the context of B2B marketing, your target group is already accustomed to a higher level of information. Here you can venture a real deep dive into the topic and also present more complex contexts of your contribution to sustainability. Don’t forget to communicate to your target audience what you get out of using sustainable raw materials. In B2B, make sure to communicate to your target group that your sustainable products/services meet the same quality standards as before.

Carmen Rommel
Carmen Rommel, Supply Chain & Sustainability

Are you unsure about what content you want to communicate? We are happy to check the sustainability communication of our customers with regard to our BIOVOX bioplastics. For your informative formats on the subject of bioplastics, we are also happy to provide verifiable facts and figures.

The so called "what-about"-problem

While greenwashing is almost an “old story” in marketing, many are not familiar with the “what-about” problem, in English for example “Yes, but what is with “..., yet. Or at least not consciously. So, what’s this about? The title is based on the term “Whataboutism.” A phenomenon in which a critical argument is not answered, but directly answered with a critical counter-question to question the morality of the communicator.

Specifically, this means: You tell your target audience that switching to bioplastics will save you CO2, and they respond with “Yes, but what about the water waste you cause?” This is a very destructive form of communication, but it often occurs on social media. Now that you’ve come out as sustainable, everything you do is put on the scale. True to the motto “all or not at all.”

To counteract this, let's talk about the second Holy Grail in sustainability marketing: Authenticity.


Tip #2: Communicate authenticly rather than heroicly

Are you now sustainable, socially engaged and also climate-positive? It’s often not well received. Your target group values transparency and authenticity. Be honest in your communication. Communicate in which areas you want to improve. Say “we’re doing our part” instead of “we’re saving the world on our own.” Use phrases like “This is the best thing we can do with the state of the art” instead of throwing around marketing buzzwords that are too big. Share not only achievements, but also unachieved goals.

Communicate honestly and authentically, take your target group along your individual path towards sustainability and ideally turn it into a story.

Do you know too little about bioplastics? Then our BE GREEN Compendium is just right for you! Our BIOVOX experts have summarized their accumulated knowledge in this brochure: The complete overview of bioplastics, their processing, performance and regulation can be found in our brochure.

Julian Lotz
Dr.-Ing. Julian Lotz, Sales
Download: The BIOVOX Compendium BE GREEN.

In a nutshell: Our conclusions about sustainability marketing

BIOVOX Megaphon

If you want to communicate sustainability, you need to know that the topic is complex and the target group is demanding. Those who rely on informative content and remain authentic will navigate safely through the dangers of sustainability marketing.

Dare to be honest in your communication and take your target group with their individual needs on the journey to a sustainable company in the form of storytelling.

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