Squash the Greenwash

Squash The Greenwash

Nations from across the globe pledged, this week to work towards carbon neutral targets to help save our planet for future generations. These are serious discussions about important issues; ultimately though its success will depend on several factors. In particular, how consumers:

  1. embrace Net Zero
  2. purchase products and services in a more environmentally-friendly manner.
by Trading Standards

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) highlighted the risks to consumers from greenwashing.  This, of course, is where businesses leverage the value of making green claims about their products and services. Therefore, it is important to understand this as consumers become increasingly engaged with green issues.

What’s Greenwashing?

While there is no single definition, greenwashing is a form of marketing claim. It is when a company or individual makes a product or service appear to be more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

Greenwashing can come in the form of ‘green’ claims on product labels through imagery or slogans. Companies and individuals may deliberately and accidentally greenwash, as it is becoming increasingly prevalent. This year, the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) undertook a joint study.  The result revealed that around 40% of green claims online could be misleading consumers.

Squash the Greenwash

To help raise awareness CTSI released an infographic today. Its title ‘Squash the Greenwash’ highlighting the pitfalls of greenwashing. It also shows how consumers can avoid them in the wake of the COP26 conference. Businesses can also use the infographic to ensure that they don’t inadvertently make claims considered greenwashing.

Green products and their subsequent marketing is becoming increasingly important to consumers. This year, a Deloitte study on green consumers found that 34% of UK consumers now look for products with strong sustainability credentials.

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. 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.”

Protecting the Public and Business

A layer of defences on the frontline will deliver solutions to protect consumers. These range from legislation and regulators 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. Ultimately, it will stop the damage from products that harm our environment. If we allow potentially misleading products are allowed to get through, the products could harm consumers. In addition, it also means that people will not meet COP26 targets because we will buy products that are not as environmentally safe as we think they are.

And finally, it’s time to Squash the Greenwash!

For consumer advice in England and Wales, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. Welsh speakers can call 0808 223 1144.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

CTSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession. At the same time, we are working towards fairer, better informed, and safer consumer and business communities.

CTSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk