UK regulatory body cracks down on greenwashing

28th September 2021

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a UK government regulatory body, is cracking down on greenwashing with a new Green Claims Code.

Too many businesses are taking credit for unsubstantiated claims. Last year the CMA worked alongside other global authorities to find that 40% of ‘green’ claims could mislead consumers. The implication of which is that thousands of businesses could be breaking the law and risking their reputation.

The ‘Green Claims Code’ will help businesses to understand how they can communicate their green credentials. It will also help reduce the risk of consumers through marketing and advertising. Businesses wanting to make environmental and sustainability claims have until January 2022 to ensure their claims comply with the law.

The code has six principles that use existing consumer laws. It states that businesses making green claims “must not omit or hide important information” as well as consider the full life cycle of the product. The code is part of an awareness campaign from the CMA ahead of COP26, taking place in Glasgow in November.

Industries such as textile, transport and fast-moving consuming goods which includes food and beverages, beauty products and cleaning products, cause consumers most concern. The CMA says it will prioritise these sectors for review. However, if the CMA finds significant concern in any sector, it could become a priority.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, 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.” In addition, breaches of the relevant consumer protection legislation can carry a penalty of imprisonment for up to two years.

Coscelli went on to say, “The Green Claims Code has been written for all businesses – from fashion giants and supermarket chains to local shops.”

The Bonsucro Certified Sustainable Sugarcane seal is designed to help certified members with their consumer messaging. It is exclusively for physical products that contain a minimum is 95% Bonsucro certified sugarcane. The seal is already used on bars of chocolate, bottles of rum, bags of sugar, packaging made from bioplastic with polymers derived from sugarcane and more. The logo is available in 23 different languages including English, French, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Bonsucro members on pack claims are monitored via the Bonsucro assurance system including certification audits.

Find out more about making Bonsucro claims.