ACCC publishes new guidelines to prevent ‘greenwashing’

This article first appeared on Convenience & Impulse Retailing, authored by Thomas Oakley-Newell

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published draft guidance to improve sustainability claims made by businesses.

The ACCC’s recent greenwashing internet sweep found that 57 per cent of businesses reviewed were making potentially misleading environmental claims.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said as consumers become more environmentally conscious, businesses need to be honest and transparent when making environmental or sustainability claims so consumers are not being misled.

“False or misleading claims can undermine consumer trust in all green claims, particularly when consumers are often paying higher prices based on these claims,” she said.

“Similarly, businesses that are taking genuine steps to adopt sustainable practices are put at a competitive disadvantage by businesses that engage in ‘greenwashing’ without incurring the same costs.”

Cass-Gottlieb said the draft guidance sets out what the ACCC considers to be good practice when businesses make environmental claims about their products and services, with eight practical principles for businesses to apply when making the claims.

“Businesses must provide clear, accurate and trustworthy information to consumers about any environmental or sustainability claims and be able to provide evidence to back them up,” Cass-Gottlieb mentioned.

“If you make a claim about the environmental or sustainability benefits of your product or service – make sure it’s right, and if you are unsure or can’t substantiate these claims, then don’t make the claim.”

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