What is a Green Claim?

Green claims are “claims that show how a product, service, brand or business provides a benefit or is less harmful to the environment”.

Who does the Green Claims Code apply to?

All businesses making environmental claims whether on packaging or in advertising and online marketplaces. 

Why does the Green Claims Code exist?

  1. Tackling ‘Greenwashing’: the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound
  2. Helping businesses comply with existing obligations under consumer protection law
  3. Supporting the government’s sustainability goals

When did the Green Claims Code come into force?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the Green Claims Code in September 2021 and announced that it is focusing its efforts into looking into green claims by FMCGs in February 2023. 

What is the risk to me and my business if I don’t comply?

  • Reputational Harm: Impact on your sustainability reputation. Partnerships and sponsorships may be put in jeopardy
  • Enforcement: CMA can fine companies 10% of global turnover. Trading Standards can pursue criminal enforcement

The Green Claims Code

Green claims MUST:

1. Be truthful and accurate: Businesses must live up to the claims they make about their products, services, brands and activities

2. Be clear and unambiguous: The meaning that a consumer is likely to take from a product’s messaging and the credentials of that product should match

3. Not omit or hide important information: Claims must not prevent someone from making an informed choice because of the information they leave out

4. Only make fair and meaningful comparisons: Any products compared should meet the same needs or be intended for the same purpose

5. Consider the full life cycle of the product: When making claims, businesses must consider the total impact of a product or service. Claims can be misleading where they don’t reflect the overall impact or where they focus on one aspect of it but not another

6. Be substantiated: Businesses should be able to back up their claims with robust, credible and up to date evidence

Examples of general claims which are likely to be misleading unless a full lifecycle claims is provided:

X Good for the planet. 

X Good for the land. 

X Helping to support a more sustainable future. 

X 100% eco-friendly. 

X Environmentally friendly. 

X Zero emissions. 

X Give back to the environment. 

X Less plastic.

General claims like these should not be used without qualification unless marketers / broadcasters can provide evidence to demonstrate that the claim applies to the entire lifecycle of the product or service, from manufacture to disposal​.

Key Take Aways

1. Consider the full lifecycle impact first

2. Consider what evidence you have to substantiate your claim, check if it relates to a specific part of the life cycle

3. Be careful about omitting information that affects the consumer’s ability to make an informed choice

4. Consider whether your claim is too broad/vague or the basis is unclear

5. Consider the overall impression that your claim will have on your customers

6. Consider that this is a developing area – previously approved claims may need to be reviewed in light of developmentsYou can learn more by visiting the CMA Green Claims Code website.