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AllanfromWales1 t1_j9j73ih wrote

Alternately the companies which emit the most may be the ones who are looking at what they can change.


SemanticTriangle t1_j9jbogd wrote

And these are the same companies with the means to make changes. Does this paper seek to actually disentangle the enabling mechanism of success and the correlation between economic output and emissions from greenwashing?

Surely what matters is not just absolute emissions (but that also!) when considering greenwashing, but actual delta between baseline emissions and current emissions.

>"Sometimes a hypocrite is just a person who is in the process of changing."


AllanfromWales1 t1_j9jdpf5 wrote

All I know from personal experience is that several gas-fired power stations are currently in the design phase in the UK with carbon capture technology included to greatly reduce stack emissions of CO2. The companies involved are big emitters, the carbon capture and storage technology is more than just greenwashing, but it takes time to design and build new plant.


lrmyers4 t1_j9k8y3g wrote

I appreciate this comment because the headline is really oversimplifying an incredibly complex thing. The use of the term “greenwashing” in contrast to “material change” kind of pushes people to hand wave about “corporate greed” and capitalism as reasons for slow adoption of climate change measures without actually diving into the details of why things are this way. I want to share my experience as a process engineer who works on a system that uses a hazardous chemical and highlight some of the reasons why it’s so complex to make material changes.

So the chemistry on my tool has formaldehyde as a fundamental component. For starters, there doesn’t even exist a formaldehyde-free version of this chemistry that meets our performance specifications, at least to my teams’ knowledge. We’ve asked our chemistry supplier about this due to the environmental and safety concerns, but they don’t even have it on their radar (evidently not enough companies have pushed for it, so it hasn’t been worth their effort to spend resources to develop). Okay, so for argument’s sake let’s assume there is an alternative that meets our technical requirements. First we need to characterize the new chem’s performance with our products at the supplier’s site. Assuming it performs, now we have to bring it on site to test on our equipment, which actually is a massive ask. We need to qualify the chemistry for use on our site, which causes questions like: do we have the systems in place to treat the waste? Exhaust? Is it compatible with the equipment’s materials? All of these questions (and more) require meetings and work from engineers from multiple disciplines to ensure we can even use it a single time. Then we have to ensure that it actually is compatible with our existing process, which means a pretty decent amount of data collection (which means product dedicated specifically to testing this chemistry, manufacturing time, etc). Keep in mind that while we have this chemistry on our tool, we’re impairing our manufacturing capacity since only material dedicated to testing this chemistry can run (which can be hugely expensive depending on the application).

Now you’ve tested it and it meets your technical requirements. Well you might need some changes to your facilities to enable chem delivery to that tool, new safety audits because you’ve fundamentally changed your process, and more logistical hurdles than I even want to list. And I’m just an R&D factory, now we have to push this to all of our manufacturing partners in multiples countries with hundreds of factories to even make a dent in just one process in one part of one industry.

All of what I’ve listed above is just a portion of the work required to make a single material change in my factory. Its honestly so much more considerations and complexities than what I’m listing here. And here’s the sad part. Environmental/sustainability is going to be just one small part of your decision matrix that decides whether to even start evaluating this chemistry. Technical performance and cost are #1 and #2, and with the way corporations are structured, environmental impact probably just isn’t going to be that big of an incentive to put this much work and money into changing your (working) process.

I always hear about how it won’t happen because executives are greedy and want to line their pockets by destroying the world. A lot of executives probably do care and do want to do better for the world and the environment. But corporations are designed with profits, growth, and market share in mind over anything else. And if you’re an executive trying to do your job keeping the company performing to shareholder expectations, “greenwashing” might be the easiest way to make an impact without sacrifices on the financial side of things (which are probably your most important performance metrics).

I’m not trying to defend the rich executives of the world and say they’re guilt free. I’m trying to say that these things are so much more complicated than just pointing at “evil” corporations and saying they need to be less evil without any thought as to how that happens. The reality is that my management won’t green light me pushing for changing this hazardous chemistry if the incentives aren’t there. This is where government regulation needs to come into play, in my opinion. Corporations will push for these things if the government mandates them (which actually is why my team asked about the formaldehyde free chemistry in the first place). Corporations just simply don’t have strong enough incentives to do these things on their own (and yes, I agree that not destroying the planet is the main incentive that matters, but if we’re being honest corporations just aren’t setup in a way that translates into that).

TL;DR: making material changes is way way way harder than it seems and can take years and huge monetary investments, corporations aren’t structured in a way that incentives this work to happen, so “greenwashing” often times is probably the only accessible way of making a positive change.


mattygeenz t1_j9labvh wrote

That was just a really long way of saying profits over people.


ThePissingPanther t1_j9jk5ou wrote

What is so special about Massachusetts materials that you can get an entire degree just in Massachusetts metallurgy?


AllanfromWales1 t1_j9k0ocw wrote

There's still some universities - or there were in my day - that gave MAs rather than MScs for natural sciences..


FreudoBaggage t1_j9mez4d wrote

I always wonder what these blindly capitalistic criminals think they are going to do with all the lucre once the world dies.


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UNPUNODETIERRA t1_j9nmy0j wrote

Can we just just rebrand the practice as “faux moral license” when we sunset the terms “carbon offset” and “plastic credits”?


RedditUserNo1990 t1_j9qpegn wrote

The headline is completely meaningless.

What metric are they using?

Carbon emission in absolute terms, or carbon emission per employee, or carbon emission per dollar of profit?

That makes a huge difference.


Vapur9 t1_j9jrcx9 wrote

Recently a story mentioned how they found a way to make green hydrogen with a new catalyst.

Digging further into the story, it mentions how they use cobalt. A conflict mineral from slave wages and child labor. It would have been more accurate to call it red hydrogen. Yet, the headline was attempting to appeal to investors with flashy language.


Justdudeatplay t1_j9nfz32 wrote

Green “behaviors” will only come on the individual level. It’s not in their hands it’s in ours. If the culture cannot change nor will the carrots and sticks.