Comcom issues guidelines to discourage greenwashing

The Commerce Commission today issued fair trading guidelines to advise businesses using environmentally friendly branding and marketing material

In the eyes of the commission, whether a product or service is environmentally is a matter of fact, so misleading branding or unsubstantiated claims of eco-friendliness will be treated just like any other over-stated marketing claims.

The guildlines arrive as an increasing number of businesses release products that claim to be neutral in their impact on the environment. The Commerce Commission guidelines cover everything from naming your business to making claims about how green products are.

“When naming your business care should be taken that the name does not draw on environmental terminology to imply reduced or no environmental impact if this is not correct. The mere use of a business name, in certain circumstances could be a breach of the Act. An example of a fictitious name of this nature is ‘EcoProtect’ which may falsely imply that the company’s products or services protect the environment, either reducing harm to it or making no impact on it,” the guidelines state.

” You should not make claims that expressly or implicitly overstate an environmental benefit. When producing your marketing material, avoid implications of significant environmental benefits if the benefit is negligible. Remember, it is the overall impression that counts,” the commission adds.