The consultation on the draft guidance for misleading environmental claims was released by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in May 2021.
The consultation consisted of both draft guidance on consumer protection laws and an invitation for comments and feedback. This is an important area of environmental policy, considering the wealth of environmental claims and credentials being touted across industries. Consumer information and clarity is imperative to tackle deceptive greenwashing visible in every day life.
In our response, we broadly supported the rationale behind the CMA’s decision to publish guidance on environmental claims for businesses, as leadership is urgently required to ensure that businesses understand their responsibility for ensuring that any claim is verifiable and backed up with a solid evidence-base.
Further clarification needed
It is important that environmental claims are genuine, as greenwashing stops consumers making more truly sustainable choices. The proliferation of disingenuous environmental claims has resulted in consumer mistrust of legitimate initiatives, and we believe development and enforcement of CMA guidance in tandem with consumer protection laws will help tackle this.
However, we did have some concerns and there are areas we believe need further clarification. One of which was considering packaging waste, soon to be under the much more rigorous system of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), where we believe greater focus on reinforcement of third-party verification, standards and trust marks should be instigated.
This is particularly true for bio-based and compostable materials, where producers not abiding by recognised standards could mislead consumers and undercut those who do, leading to potential reputational damage for these emerging formats.
Clarity surrounding labelling
Also within the packaging area, we highlighted the need for more clarity surrounding labelling. Market research conducted by OPRL highlighted that public confusion remains high when considering the proliferation of labels and their meaning. For instance, only 40% of respondents answered correctly to the ‘check locally’ recycling logo.
We hope that these concerns are considered by the CMA, especially as the both the recyclability and recycling rate of packaging materials will come under much more intense scrutiny in 2023.
The draft guidance on misleading environmental claims can be found here.
As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.