Guidance on environmental product claims

Defra has published Green Claims Guidance to help businesses make good environmental claims and for consumers to understand the green messages being marketed to them.

The Guidance is designed to help consumers make more informed judgements about what they buy, prevent misleading claims and encourage the development of greener products. The true value of environmental claims and marketing relies upon claims that are credible and reflect a genuine benefit to the environment.

In a complementary report from Defra, Consumer Understanding of Green Issues, it is clear that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental language and terminology. Four years ago you would have been hard pushed to find much understanding about carbon footprints or energy efficiency. Today in an online survey nearly 75% were familiar with these terms.

But as everything evolves so does the language used to discuss and describe environmental and sustainable policies and activities. We still need to use clear and meaningful terms to ensure consumers fully understand the environmental claims they are hearing and seeing.

The Defra guidance promotes the use of clear, accurate, relevant and substantiated environmental claims and labels on products, services in marketing or advertising. Legally any claim or information in advertising or marketing must be fair and not misleading and those businesses using environmental claims in promotions need to ensure they have clear and robust evidence to support them.

Consumers have become more environmentally aware over the last few years and those companies who continue to be guilty of greenwash can be disciplined by the Advertising Standards Authority or could fall foul of other consumer protection regulations. Let’s hope this will result in companies truthfully portraying their goods and services when it comes to environmental claims.

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