The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) plans to publish a new consumer protection law guidance for businesses in summer 2021. It aims to support the transition to a low carbon economy without misleading consumers.
The CMA wants to take a leading role in identifying and eradicating greenwash or misleading green claims. It will take appropriate action following the law as it finds evidence that businesses are misleading consumers.
The CMA is a non-ministerial government department in the United Kingdom. It works to promote competition for the benefit of consumers, both within and outside the UK. It has staff in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff.
"Increasing numbers of people are quite rightly concerned about the environment and want to play their part by being greener. Our role is to make sure that consumers can trust the claims they see on products for sale and don’t fork out extra for items falsely presented as eco-friendly.
We know that many businesses will be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and we strongly support this, but the claims they make must not mislead consumers in the process.
It’s important that people can easily choose between those who are doing the right thing for the environment and those who are not so that businesses genuinely investing in going green can be properly rewarded by their customers."
- Dr. Andrea Coscelli CBE, Chief Executive of the CMA
Many businesses are still greenwashing today to appeal to conscious consumers, especially in the fashion industry. The market for ethical and sustainable products is rapidly expanding, creating new opportunities for green marketing strategies.
Companies want to appear eco-friendly by claiming that their products have a lower impact on the environment when, in reality, their activities remain highly polluting. They want to increase sales and position their brand in a better light.
Products that are affected by greenwash include fashion, food, automobile, consumer electronics, personal care, and cosmetics.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, greenwash is:
"Disinformation disseminated by an organization, etc., so as to present an environmentally responsible public image; a public image of environmental responsibility promulgated by or for an organization, etc., but perceived as being unfounded or intentionally misleading."
Greenwashing is illegal, as claimed by numerous law enforcement agencies around the world. They warn consumers to protect them from unfair and deceptive practices.
The British CMA is currently working on a new program to answer the growing awareness of environmental issues and the rising number of products and services marketed as environmentally friendly.
The CMA reports that UK consumers spent £41 billion in 2019 on ethical goods and services, almost four times as much as people spent two decades ago.
The CMA wants to prevent companies from making misleading, vague, or false claims. It's concerned about the truthfulness behind the environmental impact of products or services sold by green businesses.
Some of the targeted industries include textiles and fashion, travel and transport, and fast-moving consumer goods such as food and beverages, beauty products, and cleaning products.
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About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.