Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Retail
Go green without misleading your customers

September 15, 2008
By Amanda Ryder


Aug. 1, 2008 – In the August/September 2008 issue
of Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery magazine, we featured an
article entitled ‘Green or Greenwash?’ that looked at how businesses
can promote their green activities without misleading their customers

In the August/September 2008 issue of Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery magazine, we featured an article entitled ‘Green or Greenwash?’ that looked at how businesses can promote their green activities without misleading their customers. The story referenced a new publication produced by the Competition Bureau of Canada and the Canadian Standards Association entitled “Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers.” For those interested in reading more of the document, here’s some more information about the publication.

Here’s a link to the full document: “Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers


We’ve also included the press release issued on June 25, 2008, when the document was announced.

What Does Green Really Mean?

June 25, 2008, Ottawa, Ont. – The Competition Bureau, in collaboration with the Canadian Standards Association has 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.”

“Environmental claims are of increasing importance as new and innovative “green” products appear in the market daily,” says Suzanne Kiraly, president of the [Standards,] *is the ‘standard’ meant to be there?!? 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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