Commons committee seeks end of ‘greenwash’

The Government must act to stamp out “greenwash” by enforcing a tough new environmental labelling system, a Commons committee recommended this week.

The Environmental Audit Committee called for a “universal” labelling scheme similar “to those emerging for food products” to instil consumer confidence in environmental labelling.

The report said the Government must “be prepared to legislate” on such a scheme if necessary to end companies’ use of insubstantial or meaningless claims or so-called “greenwash”.

Committee member Colin Challen MP says the code must be universal to fit the needs of very different sectors. “The environmental choices a consumer makes when buying shampoo are different to those they make when buying a car. But whatever we are buying more needs to be done to make clear the environmental choices we make when we choose one product over another,” he says.

Last month the Government announced it was consulting on drawing up a voluntary green labelling code to end “dodgy greenwashing”.

Development of the code is being managed by a steering group which includes representation from the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and the Advertising Association.

The original code was drawn up in 2003. It was devised to help marketers communicate the green credentials of their productsand help protect consumers from bogus or inaccurate claims.

However, the code is being updated because the green market explosion since then has heightened consumer confusion about environmental credentials.

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