‘Green’ claims in the spotlight as CMA seeks to establish new rules for businesses

The Competition and Markets Authority is seeking views on draft guidance for businesses about ‘green’ claims, following recent analysis which suggested that some 40% of said claims made online could be misleading.

It is understood that more than half of UK consumers take environmental considerations into account when buying products.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “Whether it’s buying clothes, cosmetics or cleaning products, more people than ever are trying to make choices which are better for the environment.

“Many businesses are already doing the right thing by being clear and upfront about how green a product really is, but that’s not always the case. We’re concerned that people are paying extra for so-called ‘eco-friendly’ products and those businesses which are genuinely investing in going green aren’t getting the recognition they deserve.

“We’re seeking views on our draft guidance, which clearly sets out what we propose businesses should do, to reduce the risk of misleading their customers. People must be able to trust the claims they see and businesses must be able to back them up.”

The proposed guidance sets out 6 principles that environmental claims should follow.

They must:

• 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; and

• be substantiated: Businesses should be able to back up their claims with robust, credible and up to date evidence

The consultation will run until 16th July 2021, with the aim of publishing the final guidance by the end of September 2021. Interested parties may submit their views here.

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