The greenwashing uptick
The practice of greenwashing has been under mounting scrutiny over the past years, with consumers increasingly aware that environmental claims can be more unclear than brands make out. The ambiguity of environmental claims, and the accompanying lack of evidence to back up such claims, makes for a difficult decision when consumer choices are impacted by ‘environmentally friendly’ goods. This devalues the good work being done by some” says Jimmy Dorrell, Head of Sustainable Business at Clarity Environmental. “Many business models and products now proclaim to be green, without any actual data or positive processes to support their claims. There is currently very little comeback for those that do this.”
Cutting through the noise
Following recent steps to improve businesses approaches to sustainability communications, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has now urged the UK Government to be stricter with organisations and enforce meaningful punishments on those who make baseless claims. Their open letter published in March 2022 outlines new legally-binding recommendations that, if adopted, could see changes to greenwashing practices. After holding an enquiry last year, the Authority believes that many businesses are overstating their positive impact.
Previously the Green Claims Code was designed to help businesses accurately represent their environmental impact but it did little to change the statements made by businesses. Research found that 40% of online sustainability-related claims could be misleading.
Clearing up: why regulation will drive real change
“With the 2030 climate pledge and international commitments made at COP26 the pressure for governments and companies to make meaningful change and lead the way is growing. Industry will be crucial in leading the way” says Dorrell. “We welcome this heightened governmental focus on companies claims and believe it will enable those companies doing well to champion their performance, while incentivising others to enact change. We believe the upcoming changes to legislation across the waste and resources sector will aid companies in understanding the obligations they will face, financially through EPR and through legislative scrutiny of environmental claims.”