13th November 2021

CTSI calls time on ‘greenwashing’

CTSI is warning about the risks of consumers being misled by businesses’ environmental claims.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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More and more consumers are making sustainable lifestyle choices, and it is important that companies are not allowed to exploit their good intentions by making dishonest claims

As the push towards a zero-carbon future gathers pace in the wake of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, many businesses are keen to talk about their supposedly environmentally friendly credentials in efforts to attract climate-conscious consumers.

However, CTSI is highlighting the dangers of businesses making exaggerated or false claims about the sustainability of their goods or services, in a practice known as ‘greenwashing’.

Greenwashing is a form of marketing claim in which a business’s practices are made out to be more environmentally friendly than they actually are. It can come in the form of claims on labelling or in advertising, and can potentially mislead consumers seeking environmentally friendly alternatives.

It is believed that both deliberate and accidental greenwashing is becoming increasingly prevalent. This year, a joint study by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), revealed that around 40% of green claims online could be misleading consumers.

CTSI has released an infographic titled ‘Squash the Greenwash’ highlighting the pitfalls of greenwashing and how consumers can avoid them in the wake of the COP26 conference.

The infographic also aims to help businesses not inadvertently make claims that could be considered greenwashing.

CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “Greenwashing is one of the new significant challenges for consumer protection, and it will be a growing problem as the Net Zero economy expands. More and more consumers are making sustainable lifestyle choices, and it is important that companies are not allowed to exploit their good intentions by making dishonest claims.

“We also want to make sure that companies that conform to the law are supported when they make green claims in good faith. The Net Zero agenda will eventually encompass practically every product, service and organisation in the country, and I cannot overstate its potential magnitude and impact upon consumers.

“The frontline of protecting consumers will be delivered by a layering of defences ranging from legislation and regulators through to standards bodies and trading standards services. They are all working to reduce the risks to ensure consumer confidence in a market that we all want to see succeed because it will ultimately stop the damage from products that harm our environment. If products that mislead are allowed to get through it ultimately harms consumers but also means to say that COP26 targets will not be met because people will buy products that are not as environmentally safe as people think they are.”

This year, a Deloitte study on green consumers found that 34% of UK consumers now look for products with strong sustainability credentials.

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