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MiBiz, Whirlpool and Newsweek’s Green Rankings

December 2, 2010

In their weekly electronic Michigan Manufacturing newsletter, MiBiz announced that the Michigan-based Whirlpool Corporation was included in Newsweek’s top 500 Green Ranking on companies in the US.

The blurb in MiBiz, was based on a Press Release by Whirlpool itself, without any real verification of whether or not the company does engage in sustainable practices. The press release cites Whirlpool’s commitment to the environment by setting up an office of environmental control and having all its appliances “capable of receiving and responding to signals from smart grids.”

There is no evidence to suggest that Whirlpool actually cares about the environment. In fact, the opposite is true, since the company makes products that require intense amounts of mining to acquire resource in the manufacturing of their products, immense amounts of energy to produce them and unnecessary amounts of energy to power their appliances. Add to that the company’s treatment of workers and support for racist policies and it seems quite laughable to give Whirlpool and kind of award for responsible behavior.

However, rational thinking does not apply in Newsweek’s Green Rankings process. According to the website’s methodology, “The goal was to assess each company’s actual environmental footprint and management of that footprint (including policies and strategies), along with its reputation among environmental experts.

An investigation into the Methodology shows that the “standards” are pretty weak and conducted by a London-based group called Trucost, which has a strong history with the corporate and financial world. The group’s publications tend to focus on carbon trading and environmental costs within a market framework.

Whirlpool is 116th on a list of the top 500 companies in the US on Newsweek’s Green Rankings. If one looks at the list of companies that precede Whirlpool, you can get a sense of how ridiculous this green ranking system is.

Companies such as McDonalds (79th), the GAP (71st), the pharmaceutical company Merck (68th), Coca Cola (54th), Wal-Mart (51st), JPMorgan Chase (45th), Starbucks (33rd), Pfizer (21st), Nike (10th) and Dell (1st) are all on the Newsweek Green Rankings list. Anyone who knows much of anything about the practices (both ecologically and socially) of these corporations knows that they are involved in serious environmental degradation, labor abuses, corruption and political manipulation.

Honestly, how could anyone say with a straight face that McDonalds does anything that promotes environmental sustainability? The very nature of McDonalds – drive through food, factory farm meet, forest destruction, unhealthy food, deceptive marketing campaigns targeting kids, and low wages – is unsustainable. (See the film McLibel and the website

For MiBiz to promote this hoax that companies like Whirlpool are environmental stewards is irresponsible and unethical. And while is may seem quite apparent to reasonable people we have to exposed this deception for what it is as nothing more than a form of greenwashing.


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