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Green claims

1 April, 2022

As sustainability professionals, we sometimes find ourselves in the unenviably position of having to burst someone’s bubble about the sustainability credentials of an ‘eco’ product they have found. It’s 20% better than what? Is a glass bottle really better than a plastic one if it takes more energy to transport it?

There are plenty of environmental claims about the goods and services we consume that don’t stack up, with recent research finding 40% of websites surveyed used misleading tactics. But a new piece of guidance – the Green Claims Code – is hoping to set the record straight.

This guidance, developed by the Competition and Markets Authority, aims to help businesses make robust claims about their sustainability impacts. It is based around six principles, including the need for claims to be truthful and accurate, comparisons to be fair and meaningful, and claims to be substantiated. While the guidance doesn’t give a definitive view of what you can and can’t say, it has very helpful questions for businesses to ask themselves as they develop their environmental claims, as well as case studies showing how these can be put into action.

This is a welcome step, as misleading claims are unhelpful and erode consumers’ trust in the possibility of genuine positive environmental progress.

The guidance is also helpful for businesses, who often find themselves dabbling in greenwashing, but also greenhushing: shying away from making any claims at all given nervousness about the risk of greenwashing. We hope this guidance helps businesses find the sweet spot between greenwashing and greenhushing.

By Patrick Bapty

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