What is the Green Claims Code?

The Competition and Markets Authority has published a Green Claims Code to help businesses ensure they stay on the right side of the law.

During the pandemic environmental issues have really come to the fore for businesses. And that’s because consumers are demanding more from the brands they buy from. The same can be said of supply chains and traceability.

But, while many brands want to capitalise on this and really shout about their green creds, some are being accused of ‘greenwashing’ by exaggerating their green claims. Not only is this a big reputation risk to businesses because it can break trust and actually harm businesses. But it also diminishes the credibility of companies that are doing good work in this area.

So, the CMA has given businesses until the New Year to make sure that their environmental claims comply with consumer law – and they’ll be checking next year.

Everything your business needs to know is outlined in the Green Claims Code and accompanying guide for businesses and checklist.

What is the Green Claims Code?

The code is to help businesses in all sectors understand and comply with existing obligations (under consumer protection law) when making any environmental claims.

There are 6 principles, with examples and case studies. The 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.

Who is the Green Claims Code for?

It’s for all businesses that make environmental claims about products, services, or elements of them, including claims made about a process, brand or business as a whole.

And it covers manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, supply chain and retailers. The code is also relevant to other organisations that produce codes of practice or third parties that develop certification schemes.

What do I need to do?

We recommend reading the guidance for businesses and the checklist.

The main things to remember are that before your business makes any green claims you should examine what it is you want to say and make sure that you have evidence to back it up. If you can’t back it up, don’t say it.

If you do have evidence to back up a claim, then make it clear.

You should also avoid making any general claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’. Why? Because this is meaningless without an explanation.

If you don’t have any evidence but you want to show a commitment to the environment, then a good place to start is by sharing your commitment to doing something.

You could create a set of environmental values, a vision, or a pledge. Then, make sure you demonstrate how those words are being put into action.

If you’re not sure where to start, or how to get your green creds in order, talk to us about how we can help with messaging, campaigns and more.

The code is part of a wider awareness campaign ahead of COP26.

A full review of misleading green claims will be conducted by the CMA in 2022. So now is the time to get your green claims in order.

Allott and Associates are specialist marketing consultants to the packaging, plastics, logistics and food and drink sectors. Get in touch today to discuss how we can help you with your environmental and CSR communications. Call +44 (0)1423 867264 or + 44 (0)207 257 2017.