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UK - CMA publishes new Green Claims Code to tackle potential greenwashing

  • United Kingdom
  • Consumer
  • ESG
  • Food and drink
  • Retail

14-10-2021

Green Claims Code: Background

On 20 September 2021, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published a new Green Claims Code (“the Code”) aiming to provide greater clarity to businesses on their existing obligations under consumer protection law when making environmental claims about goods or services. The Code follows the CMA’s consultation in May 2021 focusing on businesses making inaccurate and potentially misleading claims about the environmental benefits of their goods and services, a practice known as “greenwashing”.

Key principles of the Green Claims Code

The Code consists of six key principles. The principles are that claims made must:

- be truthful and accurate;

- be clear and unambiguous;

- not omit or hide important relevant information;

- consider the full life cycle of the product or service;

- be substantiated; and

- ensure comparisons are fair and meaningful.

These principles are designed to act as guidance and to ensure businesses feel confident when navigating their legal obligations. The Code provides further detail on each principle and helpful examples of applying the principles to common environmental claims.

The Code applies to all businesses who make environmental claims whether this is directly to consumers or to other businesses. This includes but is not limited to, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and online marketplaces.

Implementation of the Code

It is important to be aware that from early 2022, the CMA has indicated that it will be actively carrying out full reviews of any misleading environmental claims, both on and offline, and has confirmed it will consider bringing enforcement action against businesses that are found to have made misleading claims.

The Green Claims Code can be accessed in full here.

For more information on how the Code may impact your business and your obligations under consumer protection legislation, please contact our consumer law team who would be happy to assist you.