The Green Claims Code! Are you getting it right?
Consumers are more and more concerned about how the products they buy or use are manufactured and what impact they have on the environment, and as a result there are more businesses than ever that claim their products meet those ethical standards. It’s great to see people are making changes that are desperately needed, however we must get this right and stop ‘greenwashing’ and confusing customers. So what is ‘greenwashing’?
Essentially it’s when a business spends more money on marketing itself as a sustainable organisation than actually minimising its carbon footprint. For example, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) – a Singapore-based non-profit backed by big oil and chemical companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, and Dow – claims to be spending $1.5 billion to clean up plastic waste in developing countries. Despite this supposed goal, AEPW not only failed to honour its promise to clean up the Ganges River in India, but its member organisations went forward with plans to produce even more plastic.
This greenwashing has come at a great cost. It’s reported that more than half of all American consumers sometimes or never believe a company's environmental claims, which then hurts those that actually are making a difference. So what is being done?
Well to help consumers to understand what companies are doing and to get companies to be more truthful, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has released guidance to help businesses follow the law. To meet the Green Claims Code, you must meet these 6 points:
Be truthful and accurate: Businesses must live up to the claims they make about their products, services, brands and activities
Be clear and unambiguous: The meaning that a consumer is likely to take from a product’s messaging and the credentials of that product should match
Not omit or hide important information: Claims must not prevent someone from making an informed choice because of the information they leave out
Only make fair and meaningful comparisons: Any products compared should meet the same needs or be intended for the same purpose
Consider the full life cycle of the product: When making claims, businesses must consider the total impact of a product or service. Claims can be misleading where they don’t reflect the overall impact or where they focus on one aspect of it but not another.
Be substantiated: Businesses should be able to back up their claims with robust, credible and up to date evidence
Want to see how much you know about the Green Claims Code? Take the Quiz!