Green Claims Code – what’s it all about?

As you may already know (in fact this may even be why you’re here!) I tend to work with businesses that apply ethical practices within their businesses. This means I work with many charities, non-profit organisations and businesses with a purpose.

Recently I have been asked more and more about the Green Claims Code; what it’s all about and how it can help businesses that operate environmentally to stand out from those that just ‘say’ they do. The Green Claims code aims to create a regulated environment to back up many of the ethical claims and to stop misleading advertising. More regulation equals a fairer playing field for those businesses that want to make a difference and operate in a green way.

But firstly, what are Green Claims?

Well, Green Claims refers to a process, product, service or business that is ‘good for the environment’ or in most cases is ‘less harmful to the environment’ AND in some cases provides a benefit. These claims may refer to the whole business impact or parts of it.

Prior to the Green Claims code many businesses would use green credentials in their marketing and to sell their product and services, the code has been developed to make sure that these businesses are in fact as ‘green’ as they are making out. Cracking down on misleading advertising when it comes to green means that companies will no longer be able to elaborate on their green initiatives, they will need to prove them. This is good news for your business as it means, as a green business, you will be able to stand out from your competitors, do good and protect your business reputation.

So, what must your Green Claims prove?

1. That you are truthful and accurate about the claims you make
2. That the messages you are communicating are clear and unambiguous
3. That you are not omitting information; so customers can make a clear decision
4. That you are only making fair and meaningful comparisons to competitors
5. That your product or service meets the criteria across its full lifecycle
6. That you can back up your Green Claims with credible and up to date evidence

Ok, but which business practices do these apply to?

The Green Claims code is part of a large movement towards more environmentally friendly business practices and ‘being green’ as a whole. If you are thinking of making Green Claims as a business, then you need to make sure you have met the above criteria and that these practices are applied to every process of the Green Claim. This includes; advertising, packaging, branding, products and on all product labelling.

What do I do next?

Well, it’s easy really – check your claims and evidence them. The Government provide a helpful checklist to make sure you are complying with consumer protection laws. Take some time to sit down and make a list of the Green Claims your business has. Once you’ve done that, you need to check each claim against the six points above.

•  Is your Green Claim accurate, does it set out its purpose clearly and can people easily understand it?

•  Are you providing any misleading information?

•  Are you omitting any important information which means a customer can’t make an informed decision about your product or service?

Once you’ve made sure your Green Claims fit with the code you can begin to pull together an audit, gather your evidence to back up your claims and make this evidence accessible. You will also need to refer to the government checklist (which you can find here) and remember that employees will also need to be aware of the regulations, especially if this leads to operational changes. You can also put your own checklists in place for this, and these will help with any future green claims you may have.

I hope this has helped you to understand a little more about the Green Claims code; why it’s good for business, what the criteria is and how you can meet this as a ‘Green’ business. As the world moves more and more towards a greener future there is no doubt going to be more regulations of this kind, and this can only be a good thing. Green business is the future.

#designtip – many of the businesses I work with already have strong environmental ethics and in most cases it’s about the paperwork. A few hours of getting the evidence in order will be worth it for the business reputation it will bring.

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