The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned businesses that they have until the New Year to make sure their environmental claims comply with the law.
The UK’s senior competition body plans to carry out a full review of what it calls “misleading green claims” early next year and is ready to take action against offending firms.
This week, it published an extensive ‘Green Claims Code’ to help businesses understand how to communicate their green credentials without breaking the law.
Firms making green claims “must not omit or hide important information” and “must consider the full lifecycle of the product”.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “We’re concerned that too many businesses are falsely taking credit for being green, while genuinely eco-friendly firms don’t get the recognition they deserve.
“Any business that fails to comply with the law risks damaging its reputation with customers and could face action from the CMA,” she added.
The CMA’s campaign is predominantly aimed at companies which market to consumers, however the code does contain a section on businesses marketing to other businesses.
It said that many businesses – particularly small organisations – are reliant on the information provided to them by manufacturers and wholesalers in order to choose which products they purchase.
The legal framework regulating B2B marketing is less comprehensive than for B2C commercial practices, but it clearly prohibits misleading advertising and misleading comparative advertising.
Unlike legislation relating to sales and marketing to consumers, however, it does not prohibit other commercial practices which may mislead by act or omission.
The CMA has urged all businesses to act fairly in their transactions with other businesses, particularly where small businesses are concerned.
Following an initial bedding-in period, the CMA will carry out a full review of misleading green claims, both on and offline from the start of 2022.
It intends to prioritise which sectors to review in the coming months, but confirmed that any sector where it finds “significant concerns” could become a priority.
Where there is clear evidence of breaches of consumer law, the CMA said it may take action before the formal review begins.
The ‘Green Claims Code’ can be downloaded HERE.