The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have released a ‘Green Claims Code’, to help businesses comply with consumer law
There has been increasing concern surrounding the misleading of consumers within the sustainability arena, but equally businesses may find navigating consumer law tricky.
Therefore the new 'Green Claims Code' expands upon six key principles found in existing consumer law to clarify how they are to be interpreted. The six principles are:
- Claims must be truthful and accurate
- Claims must be clear and unambiguous
- Claims must not omit or hide important relevant information
- Comparisons must be fair and meaningful
- Claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service
- Claims must be substantiated
Ready to take action
Alongside the code, the CMA have also stated they will “carry out a full review of misleading green claims early next year and stands ready to take action against offending firms”. The code comes as part of a wider awareness campaign launched ahead of COP26, and after a consultatory period earlier this year.
The review of misleading claims will start in 2022, and will cover both online sales and claims in stores and on labelling. The assessment will be targeted at products where concern is most concentrated – for instance within the textiles, travel, and beauty product industries.
The CMA have also stated that where there is clear evidence of breaches of consumer law, they may also take action before the formal review begins.
Too many falsely taking credit for being green
Chief Executive of the CMA Andrea Coscelli has said “More people than ever are considering the environmental impact of a product before parting with their hard-earned money. We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve."
“The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses – from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops. Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”
This is an important area, illustrated by the fact that the CMA found last year 40% of green claims made online could potentially be misleading.
Further information on the work being done by the CMA in this area can be found here.