Green leadership in corporate Canada remains up for grabs

Second annual Index shows "green gap" widening among Canadians

TORONTO, May 31 /CNW/ - Canadians do not walk the talk when it comes to their commitments to greener living according to findings from the second annual Canadian Green Gap Index released today by Optimum Public Relations and Summerhill. Facilitated by Leger Marketing, the insight report revealed a continued trend showing Canadians believe they are much 'greener' than the actions they're taking to live a green lifestyle.

The Green Gap Index measures environmental behaviours in six key areas: fuel conservation, home energy conservation, purchase preference for green products, recycling, waste reduction, and food and household goods. The largest gap is still in the area of fuel consumption (over 40%) due to low adoption of alternatives such as public transport, hybrid vehicles and carbon offsets.

"Canadians have the power to transform markets, but they often look to corporations to help them adopt new behaviours or try new products," says Ersilia Serafini, CEO of Summerhill. "Our experience in environmental program delivery shows that the companies who are able to encourage Canadians to take action, experience the long term benefits of customer loyalty and trust, as well as bottom line results."

Another trend that has emerged in 2010 is that Canadians tend to overstate some of their own environmental actions. A demonstration of the newly labeled green pretense, shows 72% of Canadians say they use reusable drinking containers instead of disposable drinking cups, when in fact, the line ups at any coffee shop in Canada would suggest the percentage is much lower.

One reason for this incongruity between Canadians' green assertions and actions could be the perceived lack of leadership from corporate Canada in the area of green living and sustainability

Corporate Canada has a Gap to fill too

While much of corporate Canada has integrated sustainability into overall business through dedicated environmental policies, practices and marketing initiatives, surprisingly, green leadership is not entrenched in the hearts and minds of Canadians. This year's Green Gap Index asked Canadians to identify corporate green leaders in eight different sectors and identify reasons they believed these brands were green. More than three quarters of respondents were unable to identify a green leader or believed one existed.

"Canadians genuinely care about living greener, but they aren't being supported to do more than take small steps," says Nick Cowling, Vice President of Optimum Public Relations. "Many of corporate Canada's environmental platforms do not resonate with them because companies focus more on building corporate reputation versus helping consumers understand how their products and services can help them achieve their green living goals."

The insights generated from the Green Gap Index help Optimum and Summerhill identify communication and engagement strategies that build a bridge between consumers who desire to do more for the planet in their everyday lives but struggle to achieve it and companies who can lead them down a greener path.

The 2010 Canadian Green Gap Index is the second annual index and is a joint initiative between Summerhill and Optimum Public Relations. The two companies have consulted together to build award-winning environmental engagement and communication strategies for Fortune 500 companies, leading NGOs, and public sector organizations.

ABOUT OPTIMUM PUBLIC RELATIONS

Optimum is a full-service public relations agency with a 30 year history of serving leading global brands and corporations. Optimum, a division of Cossette Inc., provides strategic counsel and program execution to clients across the following practice groups: clean technology, consumer connections, corporate reputation, editorial services, higher purpose, retail response, risk management and social media. Optimum operates in five Canadian offices - Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City and Halifax.

ABOUT SUMMERHILL

Summerhill designs and delivers profitable strategies that move the market toward better choices for consumers and the environment. For over 15 years, Summerhill has produced innovative solutions that address environmental issues by providing program design and execution, public engagement and education for employees, customers and communities, product, industry and customer research, and strategic counsel and development integrating business and sustainability. Summerhill is based in Toronto, with offices in Regina and Montreal, employing over 50 full-time staff and more than 2,000 part-time ambassadors that support program delivery across Canada.

The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing in April of 2010 with a representative sample of 1,022 respondents from across Canada with margin of error of +\-3.1%, 19 times out of 20. Participants were asked to give themselves an overall grade for green living and then asked to report on their actual behaviours in six different categories to create the Canadian Green Gap Index. Additionally, respondents were asked to rank their perceptions of green leadership among six consumer facing categories.

Other materials available:

    
    -   2010 Green Gap Index Summary
    -   Canadian Green Gap Fact sheet
    

SOURCE OPTIMUM

For further information: For further information: Nick Cowling, Optimum Public Relations, (416) 934-8011, nick.cowling@cossette.com; Alexandra Pecoskie, Optimum Public Relations, (416) 306-6784, alexandra.pecoskie@cossette.com

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