What’s the Green Claims Code?

Have you heard of the Green Claims Code? Are you up to date with guidance and knowing where you stand within this law?

Here is everything you need to know about the new Green Claims Code set out by the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) and what you need to do to ensure you are on the right side of the law.

The Green Claims Code has been set up to protect consumers against misleading information. So if you are a sustainable or ethical business it is worth knowing exactly what you are saying when you advertise your product or service. Many businesses will indeed mislead consumers without even knowing it, by overexaggerating certain claims or unintentionally hiding certain information to give consumers the impression they are less harmful than they really are.

Stating your green claims as a business can be great for marketing as some consumers may prefer sustainable brands over others, this can be shown through statements, symbols, logos, graphics and colours. For example, specific symbols may include certified organic, vegan or claims about energy efficiency.

When does this code come into force? January 2022, if you do not comply with this code you could be at risk of being under investigation by the CMA.

Why is this new code coming into force? In order for consumers to make a fair and informed decision, businesses should provide truthful information which can be backed up. If you are making accurate claims, consumers will trust your brand more and if misleading claims are found out this can be damaging for a brand’s reputation.

A recent international analysis of websites also found that 40% of green claims made online would be misleading! And with the increased attention around sustainability and green marketing, these misleading claims would only get bigger. Which is why the CMA has published new guidance and introduced this green claims code, to not only protect consumers from being misled but to also protect businesses from spinning themselves into a web of deceit.

Essentially as a business you need to ensure all claims made, on your website, social or packaging is accurate, including if the brands you stock on your ecommerce website have information and documentation to back up these claims.

What are the 6 principles that businesses should follow when stating green claims?

Truthful and Accurate

Businesses must live up to the claims they make about their products, services and activities. For example, using terms such as ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ should only be used with an explanation as to how and why. As well as ensuring any visual claims are presented in a reliable format with verified logos.

A way to ensure you are not misleading is to state certain percentages on packaging.

Clear and Unambiguous

All claims should be straight to the point, no vagueness or broad language and should be easily understood by consumers. This goes for any packaging for example if the packaging states it is recyclable – which parts are recyclable.

Not omit or hide important information

Claims must not prevent someone from making an informed choice because of certain information left out. No information should be left out if it is negative, for example leaving out that palm oil is in the item, this is misleading as the product wouldn’t be entirely ‘sustainable’ and by putting it on the label consumers may not choose to purchase.

Comparisons should be fair and meaningful

Any products or services that are compared for environmental reasons should be well researched and fair and should be directly related to the branded product.
For example, compare using the same measurements, do not hide certain information that is relevant to the comparison, make it clear what is being compared and why.

The full life cycle should be considered

The total impact of a product or service should be considered when making claims. From all supply chains to the logistics and using the product, for example if a product is ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ but the packaging isn’t this needs to be stated.

Claims should be substantiated

All claims should be backed up with credible evidence, otherwise this in itself is misleading and going against the code

So if you are a business that takes sustainability seriously, then we would seriously consider you checking your claims against the Green Claims Code. If you are still worried or unsure about what to do, then book in a call with us and we will help to make sure you are complying with the law.

For more information check out the government guidance online at Check Your Green Claims.