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Government publishes 'Green Claims Code' ahead of greenwashing crackdown

Gaelle Walker
27 September 2021

Beauty businesses have until the New Year to ensure that their environmental claims comply with the law - amid a government crack-down on so called ‘greenwashing.’

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a new ‘Green Claims Code’ to help businesses comply with the law ahead of a “full review of misleading green claims” both on and off-line early next year.

The new code focuses on six principles based on existing consumer law, including the requirement that businesses making green claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full life cycle of the product”.

The Code is part of a wider awareness campaign which the CMA has launched ahead of the review.

The publication of the code and forthcoming review follows a CMA co-ordinated global review of websites earlier this year which found that 40% of green claims made online “could be misleading consumers.”

The CMA said it was “concerned about people being misled by environmental claims” and wanted to ensure that businesses felt “confident navigating the law.”

Before making a green claim, businesses should understand how their product, brand or business has an impact – both positively and negatively – on the environment for its whole life cycle.

To help businesses ensure that their claims are correct, the CMA has also produced a ‘Green Claims Checklist.’

Businesses should be answer ‘yes’ to all 13 of the questions in the checklist.

Where there was “clear evidence of breaches” of consumer law, the CMA might also take action ahead of the start of the formal review, the CMA warned.

CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said: “More people than ever are considering the environmental impact of a product before parting with their hard-earned money.

“We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve.

“Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA.”

Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, added: “Millions of UK households are rightly choosing to switch to green products as they look to reduce their carbon footprint. But it’s only right that this commitment is backed up by transparent claims from businesses.

“The competition regulator’s new code will help to ensure this with advice on how best to communicate and understand environmental claims.

The British Beauty Council is holding a webinar to help beauty businesses understand the new regulations on 4 October.

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