Exposing Greenwashing in the Alcohol Industry: Cerveza Corona’s Bottle Return Campaign

Posted on April 03, 2024 in AB InBev, Manipulation, Colombia

Alcohol industry companies engage in manipulation activities to protect and cultivate its image and brand value, deploying manipulation strategies serves for them to appear as “good corporate citizens”. 

This is the case with the recent Cerveza Corona’s recent bottle return campaign. Having a system for glass bottle recycling is of course positive, but ideally it should be a government requirement rather than up to the industry actors. It is clear that Corona uses this initiative to frame themselves as being more environmentally sustainable than they actually are. The company even positions Corona as a leader in sustainability efforts, as stated by Álvaro de Luna, vice-president of marketing of Bavaria:

“Corona is a brand that has been leading initiatives to care for the environment for years: from plastic fishing and beach cleanups, to the most recent large-scale sustainability best practices certification acquired by the Corona Sunsets festival. Now, inspired by the cycles of nature and under the concept: “Natural is giving back”, we invite Colombians to return their glass bottles of Cerveza Corona to contribute to the reduction of the carbon footprint”,

Álvaro de Luna, vice-president of marketing of Bavaria

However, behind the facade of green initiatives often lies the deceptive portrayal of a company’s products or policies as environmentally friendly when they are not. This initiative serves as a prime example of greenwashing tactics employed by the alcohol industry.

While encouraging bottle returns may indeed help reduce waste, it fails to address the larger environmental impact of the alcohol industry. The production and distribution of alcoholic beverages are inherently resource-intensive processes, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and deforestation. By focusing solely on bottle returns, Corona deflects attention away from these broader environmental issues while positioning itself as a socially responsible brand.

Alcohol, particularly beer, fuels the climate crisis, according to calculations of greenhouse gas emissions. The negative impact of alcohol production on availability of cereal crops for food, water security and food waste as well as the energy-consuming production processes are causing externalities that are unsustainable. Levels of alcohol harm alcohol’s harm to others and the economic and social costs of alcohol make consumption levels and patterns unsustainable.

By framing bottle returns as a simple and effective way to reduce one’s carbon footprint, the campaign overlooks the systemic changes needed to address the root causes of environmental degradation. This not only absolves corporations of their responsibility to adopt more sustainable practices but also places the burden of environmental stewardship on consumers.

  • Brand: Corona
  • Company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
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