New proposals to tackle greenwash and build consumer confidence in environmental claims and labelling have been announced by Defra. Two consultations have been launched � one aimed at helping consumers identify goods and services that are genuinely better for the environment, and another ensuring that energy-using products meet minimum performance standards and are accurately labelled. The proposed update of the Green Claims Guidance will make it easier for businesses to market their 'green' credentials in a fair and understandable way. A separate consultation on new enforcement powers for energy-using products and energy labelling regulations will ensure manufacturers and retailers of products such as dishwashers, washing machines, TVs and fridges meet minimum energy standards and give accurate information on their energy label (the 'A-G' label). Environment Minister Dan Norris said: "With so many products claiming to be environmentally friendly, it is difficult to tell which companies are really making big improvements. The updated Green Claims Guidance will help businesses with genuine 'green' credentials by providing clear practical guidance on how they should advertise. Importantly, it will protect consumers from misleading and confusing claims. "The proposed new enforcement powers should build consumers' confidence that legally binding minimum energy efficiency standards for products are being met and that energy labels are accurate, so they can make properly informed choices. This will make it easier for people to do the right thing by the environment." The Green Claims Guidance represents good practice to be followed on a voluntary basis, and can be applied to any marketing and advertising that companies wish to make about their environmental performance. The guidance sets out the key principles that businesses should consider to ensure their claims are clear, accurate and relevant to consumers. The update to the guidance strengthens the principles from the previous guidance and provides more practical information and advice relevant to the current market. The second consultation proposes increasing the powers available to the National Measurement Office (NMO), which monitors the energy efficiency of products and energy labelling by introducing civil sanctions for manufactures and importers that fail to comply with energy efficiency standards or give inaccurate information on their energy labels. The civil sanctions will provide a fairer, quicker and more flexible method of regulating energy using products than the current criminal sanctions allow. They include notices requiring a manufacturer or importer to stop non-compliant activities or bring products into compliance; monetary penalties which could reflect environmental damage caused, when prosecution is not in the public interest; or voluntary agreements for manufacturers or importers to take actions to inform and reimburse consumers or offer to rectify non-compliance such as amending the labelling. The second consultation also proposes introducing a cost sharing regime so that non-compliant businesses will bear the cost of testing for enforcement activities. This will create additional incentives for businesses to comply by ensuring a fairer distribution of responsibilities.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.