Australia’s competition and consumer watchdog has announced a crackdown on misleading environmental and sustainability marketing claims. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will work to identify any deceptive advertising and marketing practices. It will investigate at least 200 companies across Australia.
The chair of the ACCC, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, appeared at a House of Representatives hearing yesterday. At the hearing, Cass-Gottlieb said the watchdog was “concerned” that companies are using greenwashing to gain a competitive advantage, and are “not only… undermining community and consumer trust, but… undermining the capacity of Australian business”.
What is greenwashing?
Greenwashing is the process of a business publishing incorrect or misleading information to suggest they are more environmentally responsible than they are. ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said consumers are becoming “increasingly interested in purchasing sustainable products”, and are “facing an ever-increasing range of manipulative marketing techniques designed to exploit or pressure them”.
A review published last year by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network found that 40% of websites investigated across the world were publishing environmental information that could mislead consumers. This included unclear language and claims that weren’t explained or proven, displaying brand-owned labels with no meaningful accreditation, and limiting company information to appear more sustainable.