If you are thinking about marketing and promoting the environmental benefits of your products, be very careful with the language you use. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) recent case against Woolworth’s shows that it will not tolerate misleading or deceptive conduct in this area. We share the ACCC’s top tips for businesses on how to avoid potential greenwashing.
This industry prides itself on its commitment to liveable cities, healthy environments and food security. It produces and supplies a wide range of products to help meet these goals, including plants, growing media, potting mixes, fertilisers and chemicals, irrigation and watering aids and packaging. Making environmental claims about these products is part and parcel of the everyday marketing work. However, in order to avoid being penalised under the Australian Consumer Law, you must be very careful that those claims do not mislead consumers, i.e. are not considered 'greenwashing'.
Over the last decade, manufacturers of plastic bags, washing machines, eggs and drinking water have all been penalised for misleading and deceptive conduct and/or making false representations concerning the environmental benefits that their products provide. More recently, the ACCC has alleged that the Woolworths supermarket chain made false or misleading claims about its ‘W Select eco line’ range of disposable plates, bowls and cutlery which were labelled “biodegradable and compostable”.