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ACCC warns against greenwashing

March 23rd, 2024

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released updated advice on making environmental and sustainability claims, after they conducted an internet sweep to identify misleading marketing assertions.

False statements about a product’s environmental or sustainability qualities mislead consumers. They also put the businesses making genuine claims at a competitive disadvantage.

The ACCC has finalised guidance for businesses making environmental and sustainability claims. They say that now, if you choose to make environmental claims, it’s easier to do it the right way.

The guidance identifies eight practical principles to apply when making environmental claims. In short, claims must be accurate, truthful and verifiable.

1. Make accurate and truthful claims.

2. Have evidence to back up your claims.

3. Don’t hide or omit important information.

4. Explain any conditions or qualifications on your claims.

5. Avoid broad and unqualified claims.

6. Use clear and easy-to-understand language.

7. Visual elements should not give the wrong impression.

8. Be direct and open about your sustainability transition.

All businesses must ensure any environmental claims made are accurate and truthful. This includes taking reasonable steps to verify supporting information provided by your suppliers.

Case study: MOO

The ACCC accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from yoghurt manufacturer MOO Premium Foods Pty Ltd (MOO). This follows an investigation into MOO’s “100 per cent ocean plastic” representations. These representations appeared on its yoghurt packaging, website and social media pages.

Between at least November 2021 and the date of the undertaking, MOO claimed that its yoghurt tubs were made from “100% ocean plastic”. The ACCC was concerned the claims gave the impression MOO’s yoghurt tubs were made from plastic waste collected directly from the ocean. But this was not the case.

MOO has undertaken to remove the “ocean plastic” representations from its yoghurt packaging, social media platforms and website. MOO has also committed to publishing corrective notices on its website and social media platforms.

Download the updated guidelines.

By Chris Maher
SPLASH! Magazine
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