What is greenwashing?
What is greenwashing? There is growing demand from consumers to buy sustainable products, and this is driving some companies to make spurious and inaccurate claims; known as greenwashing. The risk of making incorrect or incomplete green claims can lead to negative exposure by the press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and legal action.
In the UK, the competition and market authority (CMA) conducted a random sweep of 1095 websites in November 2020. Their analysis of 500 of them suggested that 40% of firms’ green claims could be misleading and potentially break consumer law.
Governments and some companies are so concerned about the risk of greenwashing that they provide guidelines on how to promote (or not) their sustainability claims. Key governmental guidelines on how to avoid greenwashing are available for the UK, USA, and Canada.
Kering, a global luxury group, is an example of a company that has produced guidelines for its suppliers. Kering has adopted best practices similar to those referenced in this article and adapted them to the materials used within their value chain.
CMA green claims guidelines
By operating in line the CMA green claims guidelines on how to avoid greenwashing, a customer can make an informed choice about a product. Green claims therefore should
- Be truthful and accurate
- Be unambiguous
- Not omit or hide information
- Only make fair and meaningful comparisons
- Consider the full life cycle of a product
- Be substantiated by robust and credible evidence (in the form of measurement and metrics for example)
- Ensure the credible evidence is up-to-date
- Tell the whole story of the product and not just one specific aspect
In total 13 points can be found in detail on the CMA website.
How to avoid greenwashing
What is clear is that it is vital to validate sustainability claims made by products with approved measurements and metrics. Ideally, independent third-party companies, like Eurofins, should perform these assessments to ensure impartiality and unbiased reports.
How to avoid greenwashing? Eurofins Consumer Product Testing has many services that provide credible metrics for typical sustainability tests including for, amongst others, microplastics, biodegradability, ecotoxicity, chemical compliance, organic cotton, durability, compostability, emissions, carbon, life-cycle.
For further information on how Eurofins can help your company substantiate green claims, contact us.