Retailers to face legal action if they make false claims about their green credentials

If claims are found to be misleading, the CMA, Trading Standards Services or other sector regulators may bring court proceedings

Sustainability green eco

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today urged business owners to only make accurate and substantiated claims about their environmental credentials.

Green claims, also known as environmental claims or eco-friendly claims, are claims suggesting that a product, service, brand or business provides a benefit, or is less harmful, to the environment.

If a business doesn’t comply with consumer protection law, the CMA and other bodies, such as Trading Standards Services or other sector regulators, may bring court proceedings.

Read more Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) news and articles

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) can also take action for misleading green claims which appear in advertising.

If a claim is found to be in breach of regulations, businesses can be forced to make changes to their claim or make a payment of redress to any consumers that may have been harmed by the breach.

Today the CMA published the following checklist to help businesses stay within the law:

Green claims checklist
  1. The claim is accurate and clear for all to understand
  2. There’s up-to-date, credible evidence to show that the green claim is true
  3. The claim clearly tells the whole story of a product or service; or relates to one part of the product or service without misleading people about the other parts or the overall impact on the environment
  4. The claim doesn’t contain partially correct or incorrect aspects or conditions that apply
  5. Where general claims (eco-friendly, green or sustainable for example) are being made, the claim reflects the whole life cycle of the brand, product, business or service and is justified by the evidence
  6. If conditions (or caveats) apply to the claim, they’re clearly set out and can be understood by all
  7. The claim won’t mislead customers or other suppliers
  8. The claim doesn’t exaggerate its positive environmental impact, or contain anything untrue – whether clearly stated or implied
  9. Durability or disposability information is clearly explained and labelled
  10. The claim doesn’t miss out or hide information about the environmental impact that people need to make informed choices
  11. Information that really can’t fit into the claim can be easily accessed by customers in another way (QR code, website, etc.)
  12. Features or benefits that are necessary standard features or legal requirements of that product or service type, aren’t claimed as environmental benefits
  13. If a comparison is being used, the basis of it is fair and accurate, and is clear for all to understand

This explainer video was also released to help business get their claims right:

Commenting on the news, partner at legal firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, Ciara Cullen, said: “The publication of the CMA’s guidance on green claims is a clear message to UK retailers and consumer brands: make sure you comply with consumer laws or face the regulator’s full force.

“While brands are encouraged to innovate, we all know ‘sustainability sells’, so those that fail to live up to their commitments are likely to face action, when the honeymoon period comes to an end in January 2022.

“With a tougher enforcement regime looming, companies should however review their environmental claims now and ensure they are truthful, accurate and not ambiguous to avoid misleading consumers.”

Read more news and advice on sustainable retail


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