November 5, 2020
The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it is to examine if ‘eco-friendly’ claims are misleading. This new programme of work is a response to the growing number of products and services being marketed as environmentally friendly, as awareness of environmental issues increases. In 2019, UK consumers spent £41 billion a year on ethical goods and services – almost 4 times as much as people spent two decades ago.
Based on its own research and evidence from other enforcers, the CMA is concerned that this surge in demand for green products and services could incentivise some businesses to make misleading, vague or false claims about the sustainability or environmental impact of the things they sell.
Examples of misleading behaviour could include:
- exaggerating the positive environmental impact of a product or service
- using complex or jargon-heavy language
- implying that items are eco-friendly through packaging and logos when this is not true
As part of its work, the CMA will also consider whether failing to provide all relevant information about the sustainability of a product or service – for example, whether it’s highly polluting or non-recyclable – could mislead consumers and therefore break consumer law.
The CMA wants to better understand the impact of green marketing on consumers, in line with the commitment made in its annual plan. The CMA is therefore calling on the public to have their say on what they expect from eco-friendly products, how often they come across green claims, and how these claims affect their purchasing decisions. The CMA is also consulting with charities, businesses and other organisations to get a clearer picture of the issues in this area.
The CMA intends to publish guidance for businesses next Summer to help them support the transition to a low carbon economy without misleading consumers.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Increasing numbers of people are quite rightly concerned about the environment and want to play their part by being greener. Our role is to make sure that consumers can trust the claims they see on products for sale and don’t fork out extra for items falsely presented as eco-friendly.”
Businesses can shares their views about the CMA’s ‘green claims’ work and other stakeholders (charities, government departments and consumer organisations) can share their views.
The closing date for consultations is the 14th December 2020.
Categories : World Focus