How Can CxOs Spot Technology Greenwashing?

By Oliver Cronk

In the era of increasing environmental awareness, many organisations are eager to showcase their commitment to sustainability. However, not all claims of “green” or “eco-friendly” technology are accurate or substantiated. As an executive, it is becoming increasingly important to distinguish between genuine sustainability efforts and greenwashing – the practice of making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service. This blog introduces approaches that can help you cut through the noise and make informed decisions about your organisation’s technology sustainability.


The technology sustainability landscape is complex, with a multitude of factors contributing to the environmental impact of technology. This complexity can lead to misinformation and greenwashing, making it challenging for organisations to navigate the landscape effectively. What is needed are transparent and reliable resources, helping organisations make informed decisions about their technology sustainability efforts. It’s also important to acknowledge the broad range of impacts of technology – beyond the more direct and obvious electricity consumption of devices – to include the often overlooked upstream and downstream impacts.

Signs of Technology Greenwashing:

  1. Vague or unsubstantiated claims: Be wary of technology providers that make broad, generic statements about their products being “green” or “eco-friendly” without providing specific data or evidence to support these claims.
  2. Lack of transparency: If a technology provider is reluctant to share detailed information about their sustainability practices, emissions data, or the methodology used to calculate their carbon footprint, it may be a red flag for greenwashing.
  3. Cherry-picking data: Some companies may selectively disclose positive sustainability metrics while ignoring less favourable ones. The TCS encourages a comprehensive view of technology’s environmental impact, making it easier to spot instances of cherry-picking. A common example of this is making claims that a service is sustainable as it uses electricity generated by renewable or low carbon sources. For one thing this is very hard to achieve in reality (given the complex nature of electricity grids) and secondly it misses a lot of other areas of impact that technology has.
  4. Offsetting without reduction: Whilst carbon offsetting can be a part of a sustainability strategy, it should not be used as a substitute for actual emissions reduction. Be cautious of technology providers that heavily emphasise offsetting without demonstrating a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.
  5. Inconsistency with industry standards: Look for alignment with the GHG Protocol, a widely accepted standard for emissions reporting and other standards such as SBTi. If a technology provider’s sustainability claims seem inconsistent with industry standards, it may also indicate greenwashing. In some cases vendors are even going as far as to redefine the agreed definition of terms such as Net Zero.
  6. Box-ticking mentality: Some companies may focus on ticking boxes rather than providing substantial evidence of their sustainability efforts. The lack of agreed-upon measurement standards can contribute to this issue, and we have been working on a proposed Open Source standard – that aims to address this by helping establish a consistent approach.

What is the Technology Carbon Standard?

The Technology Carbon Standard (TCS) is an open, standardised framework for assessing and categorising the environmental impact of enterprise technology estates. It serves as a bridge between CxOs / decision-makers and technologists by providing a common language and framework for discussing and assessing the environmental impact of technology. By aligning with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol’s emissions scopes, the TCS enables consistent mapping, measuring, and prioritisation of a technology’s carbon footprint. This transparency empowers CxOs to make data-driven decisions and identify areas for improvement.


Leveraging the TCS for Transparency:

By adopting the Technology Carbon Standard, technology organisations can drive transparency and accountability in their organisation’s technology sustainability efforts. The TCS provides a consistent framework for assessing and reporting the environmental impact of technology, making it easier to identify and address instances of greenwashing.

Furthermore, the TCS has been designed to facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing between sustainability stakeholders, technology leaders, and practitioners. By getting their teams to engage with this open standard and the community behind it, CxOs can stay informed about best practices, industry trends, avoid greenwashing and steer towards meaningful action.

It is important to acknowledge that are gaps and inconsistencies in scope 3 emissions reporting, which can lead to incomplete or misleading sustainability claims. The TCS encourages comprehensive reporting and helps identify areas where more data or transparency is needed.


As environmental challenges continue to shape business decisions and stakeholder concerns, CxOs must be vigilant in identifying and addressing technology greenwashing. The Technology Carbon Standard provides a powerful tool for driving transparency, consistency, and accountability in assessing the environmental impact of enterprise technology. By leveraging the TCS and staying informed about sustainability best practices, CxOs can lead their organisations towards genuine, substantiated sustainability efforts and contribute to a more sustainable future for technology. Get in touch with the friendly team at Scott Logic to join the growing number of organisations that are using the TCS to drive transparency, measurement and improvement in the impact of the their tech estate.