Greenhouse Canada

Competition Bureau releases guidelines to prevent greenwashing

June 26, 2008  By Amanda Ryder

June 26, 2008 – The Competition Bureau has released business guidelines to ensure that green marketing is not
misleading, while providing consumers with greater assurance about the
accuracy of environmental claims.

The Competition Bureau, in collaboration with the Canadian Standards
Association, released guidelines that provide the business
community with the tools to ensure that green marketing is not
misleading, while providing consumers with greater assurance about the
accuracy of environmental claims.

Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers
addresses a number of commonly used green claims and provides examples
of best practices on how such claims can be used by businesses to
comply with the false or misleading provisions of the laws enforced by
the Competition Bureau. Among other practices, the Guide states that:

  • The use of vague claims implying general environmental improvement are insufficient and should be avoided.
  • Environmental claims should be clear, specific, accurate and not misleading.
  • Environmental claims should be verified and substantiated, prior to being made.

“Consumers should not be misled by false environmental claims,” said
Sheridan Scott, Commissioner of Competition. “Businesses should not
make environmental claims unless they can back them up. In the end,
this will benefit legitimate businesses and consumers by bringing
greater accuracy in advertising to the marketplace.”

claims are of increasing importance as new and innovative “green”
products appear in the market daily,” says Suzanne Kiraly, President,
Standards, Canadian Standards Association. “CSA
utilized its expertise in developing standards that can assist Canadian
businesses and advertisers to make more accurate environmental claims.
This will help consumers to make informed choices when purchasing
products that claim to have a lower overall impact on the environment.”

The Bureau
recognizes companies may wish to reassess their
advertising and labelling in light of the Guide. A one-year transition
phase will allow legitimate businesses to change their marketing
practices, if necessary, and will also allow the Bureau and CSA to
raise awareness and understanding on the new environmental guidelines.

During this one-year transition period, the Bureau will not hesitate
to pursue egregious cases of deceptive environmental claims.

Although the Guide is not law, following the best practices outlined
will help businesses to avoid making misleading claims that contravene
the laws enforced by the Bureau. The Guide will be used by the Bureau
to assess environmental advertising that raise concerns under its
legislative mandate.

Additional examples and explanations can be found in the Backgrounder to the Guide.

The Canadian Standards Association
is a membership association serving industry, government, consumers and
other interested parties in Canada and the global marketplace. As a
leading solutions based standards organization, providing standards and
codes development, application products, training and advisory
services, CSA aims to enhance public safety, improve quality of life, preserve the environment and facilitate trade.

The Competition Bureau is an independent agency that contributes to
the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive
markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

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