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Green Claims Code: CMA publishes guide to avoiding greenwashing

Retailers and brands in the UK can now follow a ‘Green Claims Code’ to help them comply with the law around environmental marketing claims.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published the rules to ensure businesses are not guilty of greenwashing when it comes to their consumer communications, as environmental awareness continues to gather pace across the country.

It comes as the CMA announced it will carry out a full review of misleading green claims early in 2022 after this initial bedding-in period, and the watchdog said it stands ready to take action against offending firms guilty of misleading consumers with their green messaging. Earlier this year, the CMA laid down the six principles businesses’ environmental claims must follow.

The Green Claims Code focuses on six principles based on existing consumer law. It is clear firms making green claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full lifecycle of the product”, for example.

Where there is evidence of breaches of consumer law, the CMA may also take action against those companies before its formal review begins, meaning the rules are effectively now active.

Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, 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.”

Newly appointed minister for energy & clean growth, Greg Hands, said: “Millions of UK households are rightly choosing to switch to green products as they look to reduce their carbon footprint.

“But it’s only right that this commitment is backed up by transparent claims from businesses. The competition regulator’s new code will help to ensure this with advice on how best to communicate and understand environmental claims.”

According to the CMA, the Green Claims Code was published following extensive consultation with businesses of all sizes and consumer groups. Businesses are advised to check their green claims against the code and seek legal advice if they are unsure whether their claims comply with the law.

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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