Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published the findings of a sweep of businesses that practice ‘greenwashing’ tactics.
The results are from a sweep in October and November of the past year. The fashion sector was found to have the highest proportion of ‘concerning claims’, alongside food and drink businesses.
Of the 247 businesses reviewed during the sweep, 57 per cent were identified as having made potentially misleading claims about their environmental credentials.
ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said the results support the need for continued investigation.
“Consumers are now, more than ever, making purchasing decisions on environmental grounds,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it appears that rather than making legitimate changes to their practices and procedures, some businesses are relying on false or misleading claims.
“This conduct harms not only consumers, but also those businesses taking genuine steps to implement more sustainable practices.”
Lowe added that businesses using claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘green’, or ‘sustainable’ must back up these claims through reliable scientific reports, transparent supply chain information, reputable third-party certification or other forms of evidence.
“We will take enforcement action where it is appropriate to do so as it is critical that consumer trust in green claims is not undermined.”
“We want to see businesses taking steps to ensure that environmental claims are accurate as well as meaningful for consumers,” Lowe said. “Our sweep has shown that claims are most useful where they are relevant, clear, reliable and transparent.”
Greenwashing is a term used to describe the practices of businesses that promote their services or products as ethical or environmentally friendly with little evidence to support such claims.