The Green Claims Code and ‘greenwashing’

With more and more people wanting to spend their money with environmentally friendly suppliers, some unscrupulous companies have been trying to mislead us. The Green Claims Code from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is a way of combatting this. This works two ways for us small business owners – trying to be more eco in our businesses and also in who we buy from.

What is Greenwashing?

Basically, trying to make out a product or service is environmentally friendly when it’s not, or not as much as claimed.

Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/greenwashing.asp

Personally this is a real missed opportunity as these companies could make a difference but choose to try and mislead us instead. Shame on them!

greenwash example

“Earth friendly” – what does that even mean?

What is the Green Claims Code?

To try and prevent this kind of misleading marketing, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have come up with a ‘Green Claims Code’ to offer guidance on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. This is to be enforced from January 2022.

More people than ever are concerned about the environmental impact of the products and services that they buy. We know businesses want to be honest with their customers about their green credentials, but it may not always be clear how to do this. That’s why the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has developed the Green Claims Code – which sets out 6 key points to check your environmental claims are genuinely green.
https://greenclaims.campaign.gov.uk/

Green Claims are things that companies use to market their products and services to an environmentally sensitive audience. You know, stickers saying things like “ECO FRIENDLY!” or “SUSTAINABLE!”.  Apparently around 40% of these claims are misleading to consumers, so there’s some work to be done here.

There are six points to consider when making Green Claims, they must:

  1. Be truthful and accurate – hopefully self explanatory
  2. Be clear and unambiguous – No intentionally misleading people with vague statements
  3. Not omit or hide important information – the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth pls
  4. Only make fair and meaningful comparisons – hopefully self explanatory
  5. Consider the full life cycle of the product – I read a good example of an electric car being more eco than a petrol one to run, but not necessarily to create or dispose of
  6. Be substantiated – Having like, actual evidence

This all sounds great – any genuinely eco products and services should be able to hit all those points and any that aren’t will hopefully get weeded out.

Summary

The Green Claims Code from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is a clear set of rules to ensure that any marketing activity is truthful and not just ‘greenwashing’ – benefitting ethical businesses and consumers alike.