Major gap in ESG reporting amid ‘greenwashing’ scrutiny

Transparency is key with mining companies approaching ESG and sustainability disclosures amid increased scrutiny over “greenwashing”.

This is according to Brand Foundry Managing Director Juli Bellinge who has launched a topical report Mine the Gap, Risks & Rewards Beyond ESG (Environmental Social and Governance). 

The Mine the Gap report – produced to provide practical information on ESG and maintaining a company’s social license – is aimed at companies working in mining resources, energy, manufacturing/industrial and METS (Mining Equipment Technology) spaces.

Bellinge says there is increased scrutiny over ‘greenwashing’ and when mining  companies design their ESG and sustainability reports transparency is key. 

Greenwashing refers to environmental and sustainability claims which are false and misleading.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is currently investigating potential ‘greenwashing’, following a late 2022 internet sweep which found 57% of the 247 businesses reviewed were found to have made concerning claims about their environmental or sustainability practices.  

The aim of the sweep was to identify industries or sectors that commonly use environmental and sustainability claims, and to assess whether these claims have potential to mislead consumers. In looking at claims, the sweep focused on what the ordinary consumer would understand the claim to mean. The sweep also aimed to identify areas where further guidance for both businesses and consumers is needed.

“Greenwashing is not appropriate,” Bellinge says.

“This (Mine the Gap) report is an inspiring and practical guide which aims to encourage  businesses to be mindful of community expectations in a variety of ESG areas,” 

“We also want to remind industry of the upcoming Australian legislation which mandates Climate-related reporting. ESG and sustainability components of mandated annual reports should be produced in a way that enables transparency.

We want to help companies walk the walk, not  just talk the talk.”

Bellinge reiterates that transparency is key. There have been several high-profile cases of lawsuits against mining companies for greenwashing over the past few years including coal miner Glencore (LON:GLEN).

In April, it was reported that the manufacturer of Glad garbage bags is currently facing millions of dollars in penalties after the ACCC recently launched legal action in Australia’s Federal Court, accusing it of falsely claiming certain bags were made from recycled ocean plastic. 

Mine the Gap collates information from various Perth-based specialists including Ryan Froman (IT professional at Cubility); Bronwyn Campbell (Cantilever Future Solutions); Thomas Jreige (principal at cybersecurity firm Shimazaki Risk Advisory); Kado Muir (indigenous  entrepreneur Dilji); and Cate Rocchi (Managing Director of Perth Media).

Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au

Images: Forrestania & ACCC
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Written By Adam Orlando
Mining.com.au Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.