Greenwashing hung out to dry!

Greenwashing Hung Out to Dry? The Green Claims Code & What it Means For Your Sustainable Business

By Cat • 30 November 2021

In the day-to-day grind of running an ecommerce business, it can be hard to stay on top of every new development and announcement impacting our industry. At MindfulCommerce, we’re happy to act as a lightning conductor for the most important changes and challenges impacting brands and businesses like yours – and we believe the recent announcement of the new Green Claims Code is well worth sitting up and paying attention to.

Perhaps you’ve already heard about The Green Claims Code – new guidance, issued by the CMA (Competition & Markets Authority)? If you haven’t, don’t worry – it’s nothing to do with shutting gates and taking your litter home with you when you visit the countryside 😉

Read on to learn more about these new guidelines for marketing your green credentials, what they mean for our industry and how they might impact your business.

What is The Green Claims Code?

The Green Claims Code is a new set of guidelines, introduced by the CMA, which aim to help brands and businesses ensure that any sustainability claims they make can be substantiated. The code consists of six requirements for all statements made about the environmentally friendly nature of your products and services.

Green claims MUST:

1. Be truthful and accurate

2. Be clear and unambiguous

3. Not omit or hide important information

4. Only make fair and meaningful comparisons

5. Consider the full life cycle of the product

6. Be substantiated

To delve into each of these requirements in a little more detail, the CMA have produced a helpful video which you can find on Youtube here.

Although each of these six points represent guidance, intended to be used for the purposes of self-assessment (i.e. businesses taking the trouble to check that all of their eco marketing claims ring true) the purpose of the Green Claims Code is to make sure your business isn’t breaking the law when it comes to making misleading, or even false, claims.

Why Has The Green Claims Code Become Necessary?

As we all know by now, more consumers are looking to shop with ethical brands and for sustainable products. This is a wonderful thing which should be celebrated! However, for as long as “sustainability sells,” certain unscrupulous businesses will be looking to “green up” their positioning, adding an eco-spin to their marketing in an attempt to court an increasingly mindful audience. This process is commonly known as “greenwashing” – and for something that sounds so squeaky clean, we think it’s a pretty dirty trick.

How bad has the greenwashing problem got? Shockingly, a recent global review conducted by CMA which assessed randomly selected websites found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading consumers.

With so many messages giving shoppers the wrong impression of the products they're purchasing, it’s easy to see why the CMA has lept into action with this new set of guidelines. At MindfulCommerce, we see this announcement as something of a “warning shot.” The invitation to clean up your act under your own steam feels quite telling, and we hope this will result in a firmer and more proactive approach from the CMA when it comes to actively cracking down on - and penalising - the worst offenders.

How well do you know what can / cannot be said when it comes to green claims?

Test your knowledge with this revealing quiz...

What Does The Green Claims Code Mean For Your Business?

We’re huge advocates of promoting and positioning your brand with care for the planet front and centre of your offering – and with this in mind, we’d like to firmly state – the introduction of the Green Claims Code shouldn’t dissuade you from talking about your brand in relation to sustainability.

For those businesses which are genuinely trying to leave the world a greener place with their choices, practices and policies – please continue to shout your efforts from the rooftops! For those on the right side of the eco-marketing divide, the Green Claims Code represents nothing more than a helpful framework which can help you convey your message in the most effective manner.

Ready to test the claims you’re making? Just answer these 13 questions.

What’s more, with the CMA set to take a tougher stance on "eco claims" made by all businesses, you’ll have a better chance of standing out from competitors who are doing less than you when it comes to treading lightly on our planet. They bad guys simply won't be able to greenwash anymore (without being penalised), giving you more of a chance to be heard.

Get Ready For Marketing’s Greener Future...

Ultimately, the introduction and promotion of the Green Claims Code can only be a good thing. For the businesses already doing a great job, it’s a case of confirming what you already knew – that your products are have a positive impact on the environment and your business is making a difference. For brands who’ve been benefiting from false claims, the free ride is up.

Perhaps most importantly, our customers are set to benefit from this new guidance. The CMA’s role is to “promote competition for the benefit of consumers” and the Green Claims Code ticks all the right boxes when it comes to this aspiration. Greenwashing damages all businesses by undermining consumer trust, breeding suspicion in people who, ultimately, are desperately trying to do the right thing for our planet when they shop.

By challenging false claims, hopefully the tide will turn – and the new generation of conscious consumers can once again shop with confidence and conviction.

At the beginning of the year, Italian oil major Eni made history by being the first in the country to be prosecuted for greenwashing. The company was fined €5 million (US$5.94 million) for claiming that its palm oil-based diesel was ‘green’ in an advertising campaign.

👉🏼 If you'd like some extra support, we at MindfulCommerce, are here to help guide you in the right direction and we have a variety of accessible options😊

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